May was a super busy month. Kind of a blur. But a good blur, if you know what I mean. Lots of good stuff going on. We’re back out in the world more with friends–concerts (with masks) and dinners with friends (mostly on patios)–and work just hasn’t slowed down, not even a bit.
Add to that, Sarah and I are also training for the Friends for Life Bike Rally in August. We’re trying to ride more during the week and also get long rides in on the weekend.
I’m struggling a bit with fundraising so if you have money to throw my way, all amounts help and it’s for a great cause, please click here and support my ride.
A few things stood out for me this month.
First, Sarah and I survived a terrifying thunderstorm on our bikes and that’s had me even more worried about the changing climate and its effects on our world. I blogged about it here. Thunder and lightening is the one condition this all weather, all conditions cyclist is frightened by. See here.
Second, I’m biking to work consistently now and since my regular commute is too short–just a few kilometres–I’m taking the long way.
Here’s me on the bridge I use to get to work.
Here’s my “long” route to work.
Third, as you can see there’s also not much Zwifting happening. We don’t have central air at home and it’s hard to ride hard indoors in the heat. I miss my Zwift teamates though.
Fourth, Sarah and I also did a fun ride in Prince Edward County this month. Pavement with the gravel bikes wasn’t the speediest ride but next year we hope to come back and do the 100 with road bikes.
Fifth, I’m back at the gym on campus, personal training with Meg, the world’s best personal trainer who has found leg strengthening exercises that don’t hurt, and might even help, my knees. Yay.
Sixth, I’m noticing how little movement I get on days when all my meetings are on Zoom or Teams. Check this out, a day with only two move minutes. When friends ask why I work out so much that right there is why.
Also, without it I can be in a pretty horrible mood.
Other metrics I care about? I’ve ridden about 2200 km so far this year and I’ve worked out 200 times. I’ve read ten books and practised my Spanish 21 days in a row.
Spanish because Sarah and I are riding bikes in Cuba next January with these guys.
I read this piece in the New Yorker about the role anticipation plays in happiness and so your likely to hear lots from me about our upcoming Cuba bike trip. I’m thinking about which bike to take with me and I’m considering either a new gravel bike or at least road bike that can take wide tires.
I’m assuming my knee surgery won’t have happened by then. But you never know. If they call me I’ll cancel the trip.
Let’s see. April began with a big sad post about my knees and waiting for surgery. But some good things happened too.
So many of you reached out, on and off the blog and the Facebook page and encouraged me to push a bit. That’s so not me. I’ll happily wait quietly in lines normally. But I began to worry I’d been forgotten. Did I give them the wrong address and phone number? Had they lost my file?
So I listened to your advice, friends of the blog. I called the surgeon’s office. I heard the voicemail message that says if you are waiting for an appt date don’t leave a message, we’ll call you when we have a date. I cried.
I listened to more of your advice and wrote a quick note to the hospital ombudsperson, telling them about the message that made me cry, and could someone please check that my file isn’t lost?
The surgeon’s office called back. It’s all sad. There’s a pandemic going on. I was prepared for sadness. They haven’t taken vacation since the pandemic began. They are still not at 100% surgical capacity. They are still cancelling surgeries everyday because of staff shortages due to COVID-19..
They are now calling people who saw the surgeon in January 2019 to make appointments. My visit was in August 2019. So, best guess, another 8 months before they call to set a date.
But on the bright side, I have their phone number. They said to call if I have any more questions. And I’ve got a rough time line. They didn’t lose my file. It will happen.
Our team even had its first in person social. Look at our smiling faces. We’re the Rally’s Angels.
Riding outsidein Vancouver
Also in April I attended my first in person academic conference since the pandemic began. In March 2020 I cancelled my plans to attend the American Philosophical Association’s Pacific Division meeting in San Francisco after the world started shutting down and falling apart. And this April, April 2022 I attended the Pacific Division meeting in Vancouver. Even as I was getting on the plane, my first flight in more than two years, it didn’t feel real.
Sarah made plans to come with me and with from Vancouver. I told myself that even if the conference got moved online we’d fly to Vancouver and work from our hotel room. It wasn’t moved online. It happened! It was so wonderful seeing people again, hearing about people’s books (and new babies) and I loved every minute of it. Tracy organized a wonderful feminist philosophers’ dinner.
While there we also walked a lot and borrowed hotel bikes and rode around Vancouver. Wow. It felt wonderful to be outside.
Here’s some photos we took riding bikes in Vancouver and walking around the city:
And at home
It’s also spring now in Ontario, despite some occasional cold days, and we’re riding outside training for the Friends For Life Bike Rally. David, Sarah, and I did our first training ride last week, London to Strathroy for lunch, 70 km all told.
Checking in with some monthly numbers
Total km ridden in April: 400 km, making for 1791 km so far this year.
Total activities: 35 making for 152 so far this year, my goal is 220 workouts in 2022 and looks like I’ll shoot past that goal easily.
Total books this month: 3 making for 9 so far this year. Wish me luck making my goal of 25 books this year.
March is often thought to be the worst month of the academic year. A former dean once said to me, Nothing good happens in March. And I think she’s pretty much right. It’s a tough slog through until early April, the end of the university teaching term here in Canada.
We celebrated my middle child’s birthday at the Butterfly Conservatory. He argued against the traditional family dinner plus cake in favour of a planned activity. Why do kids and not adults get to do things for their birthday? He’s right. We had a terrific time.
My knees hurt but they’re doing okay. I am walking a lot though still struggling quite a bit with night pain and disrupted sleep. Thankfully, there’s always Wordle.
I’ve also (gasp) been trying something new. Inspired by Catherine’s ringing endorsement of the 10 percent happier app, I’ve been giving meditation a go. Meditation has traditionally been a thing here around the blog. See Tracy, and Catherine, and Mina and probably everybody else except me!
What prompted me? Well, I’ve been taking a yin yoga class at noon hour on Friday and really liking the guided meditation parts of it. I’ve been going the introductory meditation program on the 10 percent happier app and so far, I’m doing ok.
What else is special about March?
Well at the very end of the month we finally got to get in the car and drive south with bikes to meet Jeff on the boat. Sarah and I set out this morning to drive 11.5 hours to Alton, Illinois for a week of biking and boating. I had to work to remind myself of the differences between riding in Zwift and IRL.
Indoors, in the world of Zwift, I completed the Tour of Watopia.
And I’m also trying out some new mobility routines. Confession: I’m inspired by my weight lifting son who is now officially more flexible than me. I was okay when he could lift a lot more and run and bike faster, but this is new and I’m keen to keep up.
I downloaded the GOWOD app, did their mobiliity assessment and tried out a customized routine. I like the routine but I need more commentary, even a countdown would be good. Long silent stretches aren’t my thing.
Then I also tried this routine which I really liked but I like video and voice to walk-talk me through things.
So finally I cancelled my 7 day free trial of GOWOD and moved onto to Dynamic Cyclist‘s mobility training 7 day free trial. Will report back!
Checking in with some monthly numbers:
Total km ridden in March: 475 km, making for 1392 km so far this year. Right on track for 5500 km.
Total activities: 42 making for 117 so far this year, my goal is 220 workouts in 2022 and looks like I’ll shoot past that goal easily.
Total books this month 0! But I’ve got lots on the go. Wish me luck making my goal of 25 books this year. Six read so far.
What am I looking forward to fitness wise in April? OUTDOOR RIDING. Including training for the Friends for Life Bike Rally. You can sponsor me here. Please!
January in review…. It wasn’t just any January. It was also Pandemic January. And it was Pandemic January Round Two.
Everything feels hard right now
Even those of us who have been doing mostly okay through the pandemic aren’t doing okay now. This is tough. I’ve done lot of worrying about my family. I’ve missed seeing people. And I miss my friends. And this has been going on a very long time.
On the bright side, it’s sunny and the days are getting longer. We’ve been getting out and enjoying the outdoors even in the snow and the wind and the cold.
I don’t have a lot to say about January this year. I don’t seem to have a lot of words come the end January. I feel quiet.
On the bright side, I don’t hate January the way I hate November. Yesterday I finished work and it was still light outside. Yes, it’s cold but there’s sunshine.
Pandemic January started to wear on all of us. Normally at this point in the year, I’m beginning to make summer cycling and canoeing plans. Normally, I’d have some conference travel to look forward to. But this year I’m reluctant to agree to things that might be moved to Zoom at the last minute. I’ve had enough of Zoom for a lifetime.
Ivan Coyote has my January mood just right.
January can also seem endless.
That said, I’m on track with some of the things I care about and count.
I’ve ridden my bike about 460 km in January. (You can follow me on Strava here.) That puts me exactly on track to ride 5500 km this year. Maybe I’ll set that as my annual goal again.
I’m also counting books. So far in 2022 I’ve read two novels.
Why even mention that on a fitness blog? We’re talking lots these days about overall health and well-being. Reading, it turns out, helps make you happier.
Spring is fewer than 60 days away though. And I’m trying to turn my mind to fun spring and summer things.
I liked Diane’s blog post about tiny pleasures. My mother posted this in her house and I’m right there with her.
I’ve been putting off writing this blog post and that is not a very good sign. I usually write for the blog quickly and cheerfully.
I don’t think I’ve felt as apprehensive about a new year in a very long time. I want to be hopeful and positive about better post pandemic times ahead. But I’m also frightened that they won’t be better. Even wishing people a happy new year felt sketchy. I mean, I did it. But I felt like I should knock on wood after or something.
I also know I should feel lucky for how wonderful the lives we have are in the global and historical scheme of things.
Add climate change and increasingly polarized politics, fueled by racism and misogny, to the mix of things I’m worried about and I just want to throw the blankets over my head and emerge in spring.
It’s been a very hard year. Sometimes I confess I’m tempted by this kind of message about how I feel about it but that’s not quite right either.
I also don’t want to ignore the month and year that was. Time might be a bit blurry but it has its own significance. Someone joked on Twitter today, “Today is March 674, 2020.” And truly there are ways in which it feels like time has stood still. But I’m resisting that way of thinking partly because I watch my adult children growing and changing through these difficult times. They have a lot to teach me.
I have enjoyed an awful lot of things relevant to the blog–like very long trail rides and weekends away bike camping, canoe trips, and most recently yurt camping with my eldest child. I’ve missed people and parties and travel, but this year, unlike 2020 I at least got to spend time with my adult kids.
We looked at last year’s holiday pics and laughed. I couldn’t even remember what we did. It turns out we exchanged food and gifts in the backyard on the 24th and opened them on Zoom together the next day.
On the left, is Christmas 2020. Here we are wearing our holiday oodies (joke gift meant to keep us warm while meeting outside–they’ve actually been getting a lot of wear) in two separate bubbles, Guelph child and me on the left and the London sibling bubble on the right. On the right, Christmas 2021, is Christmas dinner, missing Susan who is taking the photo, but includes all three kids and me and my mother actually eating a meal together.
We gathered over the holidays as a fully vaccinated family and rapid tested on Christmas Eve. We know that’s not perfect but we’re a small group. We were going for multiple layers of imperfect protection, the swiss cheese model as they’ve been calling it.
Although my December posts have also often served as year end reflections, I’m not sure I have it in me this year.
I did have one good thought about winter’s very short days though. While we were yurt camping, I realized the urgency we felt about getting out and about in the daylight hours. If you’re biking in the morning and hiking in the afternoon and it’s starting to get dark just after 4 pm, that doesn’t leave a lot of time. It’s the one upside of short days, time in the light feels precious and special.
I wondered about using the same approach to thinking about life during the pandemic. It’s reduced in various ways but maybe that means we focus in and enjoy what we do have. I did love bike camping this summer. I might plan for some more bike camping trips. I’ve always wanted take a cycling holiday in PEI and on the Gaspé Peninsula. Even if we don’t get to travel as much in the future, there’s an awful lot to love right here. Right? Right.
A few people in the blog community have talked about 2022 as the year of smaller pleasures.
Planning for the year ahead, will definitely include bike trips and canoe trips.
What else to report in planning for 2022?
My word of the year is integrity. I’ve been feeling the need to be grounded in my values and be less swayed by crises and the currents of popular opinion.
I’ve signed up for 30 days of Yoga with Adriene. I’ve approached it different ways in different years. Sometimes doing the class for that day whenever I’d normally do some yoga. Sometimes I’ve done the whole 30 days but spread out over many more.
I completed my 2021 distance challenge–see I did it!–and I might aim for higher next year. We’ll see.
I’ve signed up again for 222 workouts in 2022–but I’m going to need to work on variety. It can’t all be Zwifting and dog walks and YWA. With the gyms closed again, I’m going to need to get back to lifting and other forms of strength training. We’ve got lots of resistance bands, and a TRX, and even a kettle bell. I just need to pick them up occasionally. Come spring there might be some backyard personal training but there are months to go before then.
Not so much fitness related as mental health and overall well being related, I’ve signed up again for the Goodreads Challenge, pledging to read 25 books in 2022. You pick the number. I met my goal of 24 in 2021. My first book of 2022 is The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, which I’m loving. I’m happier when I make space in my life to read fiction.
My knee still hurts, both knees now, a lot. But all non-emergency surgeries are on hold again in Ontario due to the pandemic and I am going to not think too much about knee surgery. I’m going to try to do what I can to make peace with the knees I have, more knee physio and definitely more riding.
Happy New Year all! (And knock on wood.) I’m sorry these aren’t rosier or more upbeat messages but that’s where I am. I did get to have a lovely Christmas with the kids and a fun and relaxing New Year with Sarah and friends at her family farm. Life is good even if I am not riding my bike in Florida as planned.
Jeff is enjoying the Florida Keys and you can read about his adventures here.
September is the month where some activities end and others begin.
One that’s ending is sailboat racing. Bye Snipe! Water levels depending there may be a Turkey Regatta but I don’t think our schedules will fit it in. But we did race in the Snipe Nationals and ended the race feeling inspired to get better and be more competitive. That felt significant.
Here’s the official report here. And my blog post about our race is here.
Here’s photos from the Snipe Nationals:
September was also our last canoe camping trip of the season. It felt like we were sneaking in one last weekend in Algonquin. It was cold. It was wet. But it was also glorious. The fall colours were beautiful. We also saw a moose! But now we are drying out and putting away the canoe, paddles, etc until next spring.
September feels like a transitional month because while we are scrambling to sneak in some last outdoor bike rides, sail boat races, and canoe trips, it’s also the month that we are back to Zwift.
I’m back to racing Thursday night team time trials with TFC on Team Phantom and I’m also captaining another TFC team, Team Dynamite, in the Tuesday night Zwift Racing League (ZRL) series.
We still have four spots available if you’re a category D rider looking for some company and competition and lots of laughs. Drop me a line! I’m racing in the mixed category and we’re a North American team, participating in the 730 pm EST time slot. I’ll blog about trying to organize a Zwift team/herd cats later, I’m sure.
Our first race was last night on Watopia’s Waistband. It’s a good distance, for me, just under 30 km, and relatively flat. It was a TTT and we needed four riders to compete. We started out with 6 but two people had technical difficulties and didn’t make it either into, or out of, the start pen. Our team of four was me, two other Phantom regulars, and a new person. It all went relatively smoothly with one team member keeping us in line (thanks Keith!) and another rider taking the majority of the turns at the front (thanks Jack!). Results won’t be posted until tomorrow but I’m not much fussed. Really it’s about improving over the season and coming together as a team. We’ll get there.
I’ve also rejoined the gym! More on that later too but the short version is “thanks vaccine mandates!”
I started these monthly updates because of impending knee replacement surgery. Turns out it’s not so ‘impending’ thanks to covid in addition to the usual wait times in my part of the world. I met with the surgeon and did the pre-op check up in August of 2019. Two years have passed since then. On the one hand, it’s not such a big deal. I can ride my bike and walk Cheddar in the neighbourhood. On the other, I’m in pain everyday, and waking during the night with knee pain. It doesn’t let up even though I am working around it. I plan my trips up and downstairs carefully. I miss long dog hikes and even walks around the city. I was thinking that stay-at-home pandemic time wouldn’t be a bad time to be recovering from knee replacement but it looks like the world will be wide open for travel and I’ll still be waiting. Grrr.
August 2021 is looking more like August 2020 than I might like in terms of the pandemic. As a result the pause on my gym membership continues until January 2022.
August is also the month when we start to lose the evening light and activities that depend on the light come to an end. The evenings are getting dark early for outdoor riding. No more weeknight Snipe racing either.
It’s not all bad news. I did just order a new fancy wheel off bike trainer from Speed River Bicycles and I’m about to sign up for Zwift Academy Road. I’ll blog more about that later.
August is also the month the blog celebrates its birthday. Happy 9th Birthday blog! (We’re also coming up to our 5000th post. Wowza!)
August is also my birthday month.
I turn 57 on Tuesday. Friends tease me about the multi-event birthday celebrations but with family scattered and with conflicting schedules, I tend to celebrate my birthday with friends and family over a few days.
Here’s photos from Celebration #1, with Gavin in Guelph.
Celebration #2 involved riding 57 km with friends and family.
It was a stinking hot day (heat alert!) but we did it. Actually almost 60 km for my 57th birthday. There are no rules for birthday rides in my opinion but I’m glad we managed the distance given the weather. Phew!
There’s more celebrating yet to come on my actual birthday, August 31st, including an afternoon mammogram. Wish me luck.
Last month’s check-in was all about sad knee surgery news.
Luckily, it’s spring and so even during the pandemic it’s not all sad. Sarah and I did get out for our first road ride of the year. On April 10th, Saturday afternoon, we did the Tour de Guelph 50 km route. We liked it so much we’re going to do it again. It’s all country roads, not very much traffic, and beautiful rolling hills.
We’ve registered for the Tour de Guelph, a local charity bike ride, chosen that for our route, and talked our friend David into coming along too.
Yes, I miss the crowds and the community but I’m riding anyway because it’s a cause that matters, more than ever in these times. Tour de Guelph supports Guelph General Hospital and other local charities. You can sponsor me here and Sarah here.
What’s the new covid friendly format? “Once again, we’re welcoming new and past riders to register, fundraise, and complete one of our Tour de Guelph routes, or any route of your own preference. Enjoy your ride any day starting Friday, June 4th and by Sunday, June 27th and in compliance with the current safety recommendation on the day of your ride.”
We haven’t picked a date yet but one weekend day in June we’ll go out, ride that fun 50 km, take lots of pics for social media, and BBQ in the backyard after.
So getting out on the road bike was April’s good news. The bad news was that I got sick for a full week. I even had to appoint an Acting Dean for a day. (Don’t worry. Not covid. I was tested twice.) Weirdly there are still serious stomach bugs around. I spent a night in the emergency department after getting severely dehydrated and passing out. The nurses and doctors were lovely. They were glad I came. They did all the heart workups and various other tests, declared me mostly suffering from dehydration and pumped me back up with fluids before sending me home. And I’m fine now. But boy, that wasn’t fun.
Recently I blogged about recovery rides, but last week was all “recovering” rides, as in recovering from illness. While sick I didn’t ride at all and I had a full week off the bike. I went to bed early, started re-watching the Sopranos, and lived on a diet of dry toast, apple sauce, and Gatorade. I’m getting better slowly and felt like doing some things but I wasn’t ready to get back to racing right away. Instead, while recovering, I gave one of the Zwift workouts for new parents a go. I’ve written about them before, see here. “It’s a workout collection consisting of shorter workouts for expectant moms, new parents, or any riders who are looking for “a less intense, yet still motivating, workout.” This one was called Sleepless, which feels about right at 30 minutes.
In addition to that I’ve been doing the HERD Wacky Wednesday and the DIRT family values ride on Tuesday. These are some of the best group rides on Zwift, I think. Friday I worked my way up to racing but just finished two laps out of four. Then on the following Thursday I rode the team time trial staying with the gang for two of three laps. I felt strong (until all of a sudden I didn’t) and I got a PR on that particular course.
Anyway, I’m almost back to normal and I’m looking forward to a)more Zwift racing and b)some leisurely outdoor rides (nowhere too far or too fast with our hospitals in the state of overwhelm that they’re in.) And I’m hoping May is a better month all round. ❤ ♥💕
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.
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.