Trivial Pursuit

Remember this Game? It was invented by Canadians in 1979!

Today when I was cycling the River Road, I noticed something on the pavement ahead that looked worth avoiding. As I got closer, I could see it was a small, empty box.

The colour and graphics triggered a long ago memory.  It was a Trivial Pursuit box, one of the two that held the question cards. It’s amazing that such an unremarkable graphic image from so long ago can stick with you. It has been at least 25 years since I’ve actually played.

Trivial Pursuit was a board game invented by two Canadian journalists, Chris Haney and Scott Abbott. There were different categories of questions such as History, Science, Art. The object was to move along the circular track and spokes, correctly answering questions and collecting a wedge for each category. Then you went to the hub and answered a final game winning question. I have to say, I was never very good at science and I don’t remember winning very often!

I can only guess that someone lost badly at Trivial Pursuit today.

As I cycled on up the road, I rolled on over dozens of question cards, scattered all over the road. Further on, there was another empty question box and more cards on the road. Obviously, someone had let the cards fly out their car window before ditching the boxes. Another km and there was the big box it all came in but nothing more, no board or plastic wedges.

What amazed me when I got home and went looking for a picture of the game, is the number of variations that were developed over the years, including an app! I always thought Trivial Pursuit had disappeared into obscurity except as a token Canadian question on Wheel of Fortune.

When I finished my ride, I drove back to get a shot of the cards all over the road, but they were already blown onto the shoulder by the cars driving past.

Made me realize how close I must have been to seeing the cards take flight!



Eight Days A Week

How can you resist a road with that view? River Road at Trent University, where my rides began this week.

I have officially ridden my bike for eight days in a row. That’s a record for me.

Now I’m looking forward to two days off to attend a Conference at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

I’ve learned a lot on the River Road this week. While most people pass me like a vehicle, which is what you’re supposed to do, especially on a marked scenic and bicycle route, Coca Cola trucks do not.

There was a great article on my twitter feed this week about the 19th century health scare that told women to beware of the dangers of Bicycle Face. You can imagine my bicycle face when the truck ran me off the road as I turned into this corner at Lock 23. There wasn’t even on-coming traffic. Grrr.


Lock 23 Trent Severn Waterway

I also learned that I really don’t like being passed by other cyclists. Most of the time, there is nothing I can do about it. Today, a couple passed me going up the bridge to the rowing club just as I was setting out. But once on the road, I had them in my sights and realized I could pass them. So I did. The thing about passing people who have already passed you right at the start of your ride, is that you have no choice but to keep booting it. Now you are in their sights.

I improved my course record by almost half a minute! Up to now, I’ve been excited about a couple of seconds.

The River Road, is the cottage and cycling all rolled into one. The Trent Severn Waterway is in view the whole way from Trent to Lakefield and it is so beautiful. On the other side of the road, there are meadows and farms and a rail trail bike path. People swim and fish and picnic, bird watch and even just sit by the river and read.

For now I keep riding this road because the sight and smell of the water takes me back to summers at the cottage, and fellow cyclists who give me the wave remind me of boat trips with my Dad. I’ve been remembering him a lot this week.

Soon, I will need to tackle some hillier routes.

My First Mechanical

OK. Now what?
OK. Now what?

Yesterday I had my first mechanical. I don’t have a team car that follows me around to change my tire or give me a new bike when something goes wrong. But I do have a wonderful live-in mechanic, so I’ve never bothered to learn how to do anything more than fill my tires with air. I cycle with my phone in case anything dire happens, and more importantly, to Map My Ride. But in all the years I’ve been cycling, I have only ever had one flat tire and I was in Warsaw at the time. Amy Quirk at the garage just loaded me and my bike into her van and brought me home. Kind of like a team car, I guess.

When I got in my car to head over to the River Road for my Stage 5 ride, there was my beautiful new Specialized Ruby sitting on the passenger seat. And all I could do was wait for my mechanic to arrive home. Fortunately, I didn’t fall far behind the pack. I did manage to get in my ride, but without the rain and cobbles the Tour riders endured.

New goal. Learn how to take care of my own bike!


The Le Tour 14 Challenge

I’ve taken up Map My Ride’s Le Tour 14 Challenge. Not because I’ll appear anywhere near the top of the leaderboard, or have much hope of winning a prize… but you never know!

When I first started using this app to track how far I was going on my various rides, I knew it might be the beginning of a slippery slope. It is far too easy to get sucked into watching the numbers and not enjoying the ride. But the day I got an email saying I had a Personal Record on the River Road North course, I was hooked.

I’m  taking up this Challenge because my hip replacement has given me new life on the bike again. And riding Le Tour 14  is going to get me out on the road most every day. By the time the challenge is over, I’ll be just 3 days short of my six month recovery milestone.

My goal is to ride 10% of the total 3,664 km between the Grand Depart in Yorkshire, England on July 5th and the final sprint on the Champs Élysées in Paris July 27th. So it seems fitting, or perhaps ironic, that my current rank  4,836 is just about 10% of the 44,720 who’ve joined the Challenge.

It would be fun to set up routes to honour the challenges of each stage in some way, but my July schedule imposes different rest days than the Tour Riders, and I’m still not doing many hills, or Côtes, as they are called in the Tour.

I only just noticed that when this photo in The Guardian caught my eye.

We’ve always called the steep hills around Warsaw cols. There’s the Col de Warsaw and Col de Sawmill. Turns out they’re just Côtes. Maybe that will make it seem easier next time!


West meets East

Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird

Long ride yesterday all the way out Quarry Road to 69. Long ride for me, anyway. A couple of weeks ago, I bought new shorts only to discover that they are now graded for the number of hours and days a week you ride. Mine are hour long shorts. And as I moved into the second part of the ride, I began to wonder just how comfy 2 hour shorts would be.

Just towards the end of Quarry Road, there is a nature preserve, with a boardwalk through the marshland and observation tower off in the distance. A bird on the wire caught my eye with the flick of its white-tipped tail. It flew along beside me for a bit, following the wire landing every so often, almost as if to let me catch up. Eastern Kingbird, Rob tells me when I mention the white tip on its tail.

It was been a wonderful bird day. On the dock earlier, we watched a tern circling the bay, lofting into the wind, then diving into the water and up, shaking midair, before making its climb once more.  Sometimes on the bike, I feel that kind of freedom and grace, even power.

Once the kingbird goes its way, I turn to cloud watching. And as I crest the rise back to the Quarry, the horizon opens up and I’m suddenly out west on our family farm, up on the north place. Something about the wind and the light and the feeling of an open sky.

As if on cue, a train whistles in the distance, the one sound that always puts me back in the dormer room of my grandma’s house, looking out towards the tracks and grain elevators.

The train through Coldwater crosses many small roads, and the whistle marks it’s slow progress westwards. But I’m back in the headwind now, adding more wildflowers to my list… vetch, mullein and chickory.


Spotted_Joe-pye_Weed (1)

Suffice it to say, yesterday’s ride lived up to every one of my weather observations, even the horizontal rain. Especially, the horizontal rain.

In the wind and rain sometimes you move through the woods incognito. As I pushed my bike past the rutted gravel on the first  hill,  a parade of young turkeys wandered through. Wind at my back, I flew down the road through the marsh, and a heron lifted off over my head. Then I was moving past horse farms and cattle farms, fields of soy with the lone stalk of corn betraying last year’s harvest and finally, a solar farm with its windrows of panels reflecting an angry sky.

But turning towards home, it was the ditches—the wildest of gardens— that kept my mind off the headwind. Queen Anne’s Lace, Goldenrod, Joe Pyeweed (pictured) pink and beautiful despite its name, Evening Primrose, Milkweed, Marsh Milkweed, Yarrow, Butter and Eggs, Sweet White Clover, purple clover, thistles, a second bloom of Blueweed, the first jewelweed, purple loosestrife. Something that looks like and may well be phlox, perennial sweet peas and a few straggling tiger lilies have volunteered from nearby gardens.

The hills shelter the wind and the horizontal rain holds off til the final climb, taming the dust on the road underneath the strumming hydro lines. Best ride ever.


Windrows at the cottage
Windrows at the cottage

It is August. Glory days at the family cottage on a lake near Georgian Bay. And today it’s windy enough for windrows—lines of bubbles streaming along with the chop—remnants of much bigger waves somewhere out from our bay. Windrows in the bay mean there is a serious wind out there.

The blue tarp on the canoe is billowing, the trees are rushing,  and every so often rain (that’s not on the weather radar) blows in sheets across the water. Sneaky rain. The sky is puffed with grey clouds, that rip open every so often to let the sun stream though. Gulls and terns and turkey vultures are swirling high in the drafts.

And here on the ground, I am working myself up for a ride.  It’s going to take some courage.

The route is out and back. Good part is that I’m going to fly on my way out, wind at my back. It’s the return trip that I’m working up to.  Like one long climb. But there is only one way to cycle from here, and there are only three more riding days left, and no more excuses. I’ve read all (and I mean all) of the magazines I bought just yesterday. I’ve baked, finished at least two NYT crosswords, played frisbee with the dogs and started a new blog.

So, here goes! At least it will be something to write about.