UBC Olympic Triathlon Race Report

I still have a bit of euphoria left but the drowsiness is coming on rapidly. I had an incredible race. I’m just so thankful to everybody and everything that makes a day like today possible. My ancestors, my parents, the land that supported me as I travelled across it, my wife and kids, the ever positive volunteers and race organizers, whoever built that new aquatic centre and I can go on and on.

If you read my pre-race report you’ll notice that I wanted to swim sub36min, cycle sub83min and run sub72min but changed those hopes to finishing in 3.5 hours. So that’s 1500m swimming, 40km cycling and running for 10km (for those that don’t know).

This morning I weighed ~325lbs which is roughly 40 more than when I did this race 3 years ago. I haven’t been on the bike outside much at all and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to sustain 3.5hrs of consistent effort with my longest training day being only two hours.

So now that it’s all set up, I completed in 3hrs20min with a 35min swim, 80min bike and 73min run. I’m amazed. We had a long run and subsequent transition after the pool so that was 8 minutes and T2 was 4. I’m thrilled by this and mostly about being able to race at a low zone 3 (heart rate ~150-155) for it all. I attribute this to my nutrition plan which I used during my Ironman in 2014. I mixed two bottles with 2 Nuun tabs, and a mixture of CarboPro and Orange Gatorade for taste (~450kcal). I had one on the bike and one on the run and I felt strong throughout.

My sense of the course is that it is a fast one. The winds picked up halfway through the bike but the out is mostly downhill and the back is a gentle uphill. The run has a lengthy downhill segment and the back not much of a noticeable climb. The pool was fast and electric. It had 10x50m lanes so we swam down and back each lane across the pool to clock 1km then jumped out and back into lane 5 to finish the 1500m.

I had to register this morning and was put into the D heat. We went last around 9:15am and though I was told we were grouped by time (35-45min estimated swim time) that was not the case. I found myself 2nd last in my heat with Thomas kindly taking the rear. He would pass me at the 25m mark. LOL It’s definitely harder when you’re the slowest by a wide margin. I just had to swim within myself being unable to use anybody to pace off of. I had a close call with one guy as I had to barrel role to avoid a head on collision. He was coming down the middle of the lane and I was creeped over a bit too. We locked arms into our shoulder but we got free during the recovery, no injuries. Yay!

Thomas went out pretty fast and built 100m lead on me but I was able to bring it back to 40m by the end. I was happy with that. People were lined up all around the pool and it was neat looking at them as they waited their sprint heat. I felt pride knowing, even though last, that I was doing the Olympic distance. The sprint is half the distance and I was thinking how maybe I should’ve opted for that instead but am so happy that I didn’t.

T1 (1st transition from swim to bike) had a long run from the pool to the bike racks. It was somewhat surreal needing to run around the Aquatic Centre and between the old Student Union Building where I had once been attacked by a throng of teenagers. The Bird’s Nest wasn’t there and certainly not the Aquatic Centre. I used to play soccer and go to beer gardens where the hot tub is. Racing at UBC is a treat and though many construction changes have happened in the 20 years, there are many memories anchored deep.

I was happy to see Thomas in the change tent but he was long gone by the time I got to the bike rack. It was raining by now and very cold. Probably around 5 degrees C which is what, about 40 degrees F?

The bike course is an out and back with 4 laps. A few potholes would steal some unsecured water bottles from inattentive riders. They were deep so I hope they and their bikes were ok. I rode with a spare tube but no pump or patch kit. Gambling but no issues. I chose running shorts and a long sleeve, short sleeve, tech hoodie combo for the top. I was very cold but once things numbed out, it became more bearable.

So I’m the slow guy on the course but not so so slow on the bike. I get a lot of energy out of the people cheering, the volunteers offering encouragement and others who pass me by. Some of them say, hey way to go. I hear..for a fat guy. I change it in my head by replying, thanks…you too.

The 4th lap came and went pretty quickly as far as I was concerned. By the third, I was trying to remember how many I had done. There’s always that thought “Am I going to do 5 of these because my brain doesn’t work anymore?” Don’t ever ask me to engage in complex conversation while I’m sweating a lot.

As I was coming in to T2 (Bike – Run transition), I was pretty hobbled. I haven’t cycled enough to have developed reasonable sit bone resilience and I was cranking a big gear at times and my hamstrings seemed locked tight. I managed to get the short distance to my bike, and as per regulation, put my helmet on first and then changed shoes and all that stuff. I was out in 3:55. I hobbled forward to the end of the transition and then as soon as I crossed it, I was able to run. I don’t know how but I did run. It wasn’t pretty. For one, I couldn’t feel my feet. They were completely senseless and would take 3km of pounding to start coming back.

And so I was running. I wasn’t the fastest or even competitive but not the slowest either. I was able to meet some people on the course and share war stories. Still able to talk in low Zone 3. I’d power down the hills as quick as I could trust my feet and heart and on the steeper inclines, I’d power walk. There were only two of these on the course. At the halfway mark, I saw that I had 30 minutes left to finish in 3:15 and match the time I set three years ago. I picked it up though not able to tell how fast I was going. I was wearing my Garmin 910 and had it set on Auto Multisport. That was a mistake and I got no metrics about speed or pace and even my HR monitor was wonky, reading at times and not at others. It was nice though to run to how I felt. I didn’t go too hard fearing that I’d blow up and inevitably get slower. The pace I kept was a good one, about 11.2 min/mile which is very fast compared to my training pace (~13min/mile).

With the last straight slightly uphill stretch and a downhill turn to go, I had 9 minutes to get to the finish to be there by 3hr20min. I turned it on, as much as I dared, trying to catch the big guy who passed me by. He was too fast. I felt pure elation in that final stretch, very grateful to all my relations. I thought of my wife and kids AJ, Emily and Bobby, hoping that I’d see them at the end. It was really raining uncomfortably hard and cold. Sure enough, there they were, cheering me on wildly as I ran down that last few metres. I was and am so happy. What privilege I have to be able to do this, to have the time and resources and health to do all of this. AJ and her support are tantamount to any success I have and I am eternally grateful and indebted to her.

She delayed her plans to spend the weekend with her two best friends to care for the kids. She took them to music class and stood there waiting for me in the cold rain, trying to keep the kids entertained. Bobby is 2.5 and so appeared content to be sheltered away in his stroller and Emily was hunkered down under an umbrella. They were soaked. I lifted Emily over the fence and she was immediately given a medal. It matched the one I got and I didn’t want to give it back. My hope is for her to find her own way of taking care of herself and hopefully sport fits into that picture in some way. I’d love to be able to do races with her and Bobby as they grow.

So there you have it. I was super happy, feeling very proud, excited to have my family there and see others that I’d met throughout the day. I told AJ that I needed 30 minutes to change and gather everything and I also couldn’t pass up a chance to sit in the hot tub. My whole body stung as I entered, my skin and flesh slowly warming and building circulation. I got out much too early for my liking but not wanting to leave AJ too long. But that happened anyway, as it often does. I’m a very lucky man to be blessed with the love of such a wonderful woman. I hope and try to support her as much as she does me.

Signing off for now. Hope you all enjoy your weekends out there and if you’re on spring break, that time as well.

With love. ❤

 

 

 

 

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UBC Olympic Triathlon pre-race report

Ever heard of new-pool smell? The new UBC Aquatic Centre is incredible! I can’t wait to start. Our heats are behind (of course everyone says).

I had to register this morning as I missed the deadline. I still haven’t paid. They didn’t have that functionality set up yet for 6:30. Good thing because I don’t exactly have money to give them. LOL I’ve been trying to load my prepaid credit card since last night. They won’t take cash.

I’m excited and nervous. This is the first triathlon or race of any kind since doing Ironman Canada in July 2014. Since then I put back on 115lbs and have dropped 50lbs since deciding to race Ironman again this July.

I did this race 3 years ago and had the gall to think that I could better that time. I think I was about 40lbs lighter then and had half marathon run and 100km cycling endurance. I was able to finish in 3:15 then. My times swim:36min, bike:83min, run:71min.

Today I think I need to be happy with 3.5hrs. I haven’t been on my bike outside much because of snow and only started running 10k two weeks ago. My longest training session has been 2 hrs. I think I need to be reasonable.

It’s wonderful being here though. Excitement is everywhere. Love the comaradarie and conversation and even questionable looks at my Ironman finisher jacket that I’m proudly peacocking.

Our heats are drawing near so I should wrap up. Hope to write something afterwards. Enjoy your day everyone. 😀

For my Mom

momMy Mom is in the ICU right now with some kind of an infection that is causing her shortness of breath. We’re all worried. They’ve ruled out a blood clot and now are tracing the source. UTI? We don’t know. Some months ago she fell and broke her hip and has been actively recovering at home after too long a stay in several hospitals. Her physiotherapist has said that she has been a studious pupil, committed to doing her exercises as instructed and so this has taken an unexpected turn.

My Mom hasn’t been a model of health all of her years, playing catch up for the most part, perhaps a model I’ve used for my own procrastinating tendencies. That’s not to say that she didn’t try, she actually did far beyond her best but diabetes markers started popping up in her 20’s and then Multiple Sclerosis, Canada’s disease they say, in her early 40’s. The years have taken their toll on her body.

My Mom, through it all, and believe me there has been a lot of all…has been a workhorse, a silent Matriarch gluing the pieces of our family together with her caregiving work and service. Whether it was through the making of thousands of meals (not all at once, just in twos, threes and fours), sewing miles of stitching, crafting quilts for all of us to feel her love, she worked tirelessly to take care of us. That’s what she knows to do.

My Mom never got much of the credit as we have grown. We doted on Dad. He’s a little more charismatic, more comfortable socially, more expressive. It’s never been fair and Dad has taken it diplomatically, gently nudging us reminders of the greatness of Mom. Mom never once complained that I’ve ever heard. She was just that silent Matriarch, amazing and awesome in her strength and resolve.

Now, to think of my Mom laying there in an ICU ward, short of breath, needing oxygen – this life giving element that we so lightly take for granted; the oxygen that she needs so that she may work just as hard on the inside to repair and heal and come home. I…hope.

We worry.

My Mom is a proud woman, strong as they come and not one to let others do the work for her. I’m sure she would love that, deep down inside, to be taken care of, but that’s not her way. She’s my Mom – a mom like many others, who learned long ago that in order to grow a family, self must come second, or 10th or last. There are always so many things to do.

I never understood that, and I still don’t…not fully. I have my own family now. I am learning.

It’s an odd place to be, being a parent and a child in the same body. I need to care for my kids, and, I want my Mom still to care for me. I want for her to be well and happy, for my children to learn from her and for myself, to see the love that she carries in her eyes for them. How wonderful that is! It’s hard to see that love when you’re the kid. Sometimes, all I saw was the yelling or being told what to do. It was a long time before I knew how to tell that. It was a longer time to be able to tell her that.

I love you Mom!

Emily, Bobby, AJ and I love you so much. I feel so lost all of these miles away. We miss you dearly and are trying to do that thing people say they do…sending you positive healing energy and hoping to see you very soon.

Get some rest. 😉

Talk soon.

Tyler

Turning 40

One more day to go.

I’ve lamented a long time, grieving over the loss of time and opportunity; my adolescence and my 20’s. I had no idea how or who to be in a complex social world and couldn’t realize that all I needed to do was be me. Embrace the Tyler and let me shine. That was far too frightening for me at that time of my life.

It’s almost time to move on with things. For the last 7.5 years I have been looking forward to and dreading tomorrow.

Turning 40 has become a benchmark to measure my life by. The moment I turned 32.5, I knew I had to pick up my socks. People were already having heart attacks in their late 30’s and the way I was going, I was going to be one of them. I was deep into my big fade period, alone, isolating, waiting for the inevitable…death. There had to be more.

Without getting too into things, I’ve done a lot since then. I had my first long term relationship, met another woman, fell in love and got married, have had two wonderful kids, rediscovered a love of cycling, swimming and running and especially how fun it is to put them all together.

I’ve accomplished a lot, added great meaning to my life, great purpose. If you knew me 7.5 years ago, you are very surprised by everything that has happened. Everyone tells me this, close friends, close family, acquaintances. Everyone is happy for me yet I am left with that same person from all those years ago, the one that is still trying to play catch up.

I am not happy with myself. I wonder if I ever can be. Happy? Satisfied? Content? Loving? Appreciative? I use these words to try to fake it until I make it but my actions suggest a whole different narrative.

I notice that I’m really addicted to loathing myself these days. I’m guessing that you’re wondering what that can even mean or look like. Well, let me tell you.

In the last year, I’ve reverted to my equilibrium self from a state of massive accomplishment (having lost 100+ pounds and successfully competed in my first Ironman). I was proud, felt strong and invincible. No hill seemed too steep.

My equilibrium state is this guy who is stuck in the 350-365lb range, active, but only until I get discouraged by just how hard it is to be active. My sleep apnea requires nightly treatment, my emotions are all over the place and I struggle so mightily trying to maintain a semblance of consistency. My house is a mess, my relationships on presumed everything-will-be-alright cruise control, my life is a mess, I can’t make a decision for the life of me.

Over the past year, I’ve tried a half dozen times to right the ship (as I recognized I was sinking) and nothing has stuck. I’ve had some bad luck (broke my arm) but mostly, I always fall back to bad habits, specifically eating habits. I resent not being able to eat what I want when I want. It’s become my only stress coping mechanism, my go-to.

A week and a half ago, I set off with friends to cycle 1700km to San Francisco from Vancouver, BC (Canada). I made it 5 days (~550km) before falling apart so completely that I needed my wife to come and rescue me. The trip to San Francisco was supposed to be the one epic thing that I did for my 40th birthday. I would be hell-bound to allow my 40th to look anything like my 30th (where I went to sleep early in hotel room on a Friday night after work, surrounded by no friends, no family, nobody).

If you haven’t realized by now, my 40th birthday is a big one for me. I’ve wondered why as others have different milestones. I guess all I can say, apart from the being motivated to do something with my life, I just fondly remember my Dad turning 40.

He’s a card and a good sport. Everyone, friends, family, acquaintances came by to get their licks in. He was OVER THE HILL! I’m not sure how it was for him to turn 40 but I definitely was excited and that’s why I remember it so fondly. He seemed to be loved and to have a great many people in his life who appreciated him. I knew that I loved him. He was my hero after all, this monumental man; a guy who was charismatic, generous, thoughtful/considerate, hard working and intelligent. He’s many more things but these are qualities I especially admire, probably because I don’t think I’m so great at any of them.

In a few hours I will wake up to 40. I’ve made the decision that it is more important for me to be with my family (even though that’s all it will be) than to be off on some grand adventure. We didn’t do Vegas or Disneyland, or go ocean kayak touring like had been my goal since 35. We won’t have a party, there won’t be anybody there except my wife and my children and I say that’s a far cry from where I was on my 30th.

I am sad, certainly, as I look to tomorrow and think about what could have been. Thing is, I had the epic in my hands and I chose my family instead. And it is the right choice. If I think of being 32.5 again and were I to know that I’ll be able to wake up with my wife and children when I turn 40, I’d probably think that is plenty good enough. At this point, I really don’t want anything more.

Day 5 Bruceport Park, WA – Warrenton, OR (80km)

I am in a perpetul motion cyclone of running away from myself. There is always a way out and that is always better than what is happening right now. So that’s what I focus on, the lure is the escape moreso than the other thing I crave.

Today was the hardest of the trip for me, a relatively easy 80km or so, more or less. I was on my own as I had wanted to be. I set off from camp about 1 hour after everyone. By 13km, I had set forth actions that are not worth recovering from.

I was in a miserable state, totally broken down, sobbing. I held my head in my hands as I paced about a clearcut trying to find some solid grounding. My thoughts and my emotions were a blur. I was devastating myself, obsessing over how much I was missing AJ and the kids. Part of that is absolutely true and part was a distraction away from the painful minutia of each pedal stroke.

I have been heavily conflicted since before leaving on this trip, what was right for me to do. Do I leave my family for 2.5 weeks where I will turn 40 without them or do I stay and wake to their smiling faces knowing that meaning isn’t in the doing but in the being, especially with those that I love so dearly?

Before this trip, I had no idea how I could miss someone so deeply. During one cell service hole, Emily left a message. It was just her and I had no idea what she was saying and it filled my heart with both joy and pain at the same time. I ached to be able to hug her and kiss her.

AJ is driving down from New Westminster to pick me up and take me home.

When I’m cycling, I’ve turned into a bit of a blubbering mess, full of fears and anxieties around my personal health and wellness. Each time a large truck passes me, I shake in my clipless shoes, terrified that this might be the one that hits me. Riding across Canada, I never once worried about that. It’s different now, especially knowing that AJ lost her dad before he turned 40 to a tragic recreational accident. The thought that I might not see my family again because of this decision to ride, it was ultimately too heavy to bear. It didn’t help how I heard that 20 cyclists are killed in Oregon every year by logging trucks. I find that stat a bit hard to believe but that’s hard to rationalize when I hear one bearing down on me from behind. It is fundamentally terrifying to be knocked around in a big truck’s slip stream while trying to hold a narrow shoulder.

When I called AJ at 13km, I just needed to hear her voice. She was worried and offered to come get me. I can’t say I hadn’t thought about it. I quit 100 times a day in my head. I told her that I wasn’t sure. I needed to ride a bit and would get back to her. Riding was painful though, not in a physical sense, but in an every hill seems like a mountain and I check my wheels for drag on the downhills kind of way. I haven’t been on my nutrition like I had been in the first 3 days. I think this was very significant in my emotional turmoil.

As I rode, I became more clear that I wasn’t enjoying this. I didn’t want to keep doing this. I just wanted to see my family, that is all. Seemed like a simple request. So I sent a text to AJ, to please come and get me. I didn’t have any service so the message was queued. When it went through, it was much later in the day and AJ thought it best to bus and train it home. I didn’t think that was a great idea. Then as the day grew older, I accepted that sometimes, when you’re cycle touring, all you can do is stop and sleep in a ditch in the shade and so that’s what I did.

It sucks in life when there aren’t any good options. When touring, it gets pretty simple, stop or keep going. I’m on my own, carrying food and shelter and I have resources; money, intelligence, friendliness. I stopped a lot and I also kept going and I made it to Astoria, Oregon. It is a beautiful place and also completely unnerving to get to; requiring a 5km ride across a wind warning exposed bridge with a shoulder barely big enough for my panniers.

Once I reached Warrenton, opposite from Astoria via another bridge, I knew the guys were close at a laundromat. I found them and told them about my day, how hard it was for me and that I was thinking of calling it quits. I had no injury, nothing physically that restricted me from doing this, I just didn’t want to do this anymore. And that was hard to say and even more difficult to stay committed to as we spent more time together, ate supper together and built the comradery back up again.

I called AJ to give her an update where I was at in my misery. She had just gotten into the van to come get me. I didn’t have to courage to tell her to stop.

Now I’m in a hotel. She should be here in a few hours. The guys are at campsite 10k away. I hate the idea of leaving them more than the idea of stopping riding. We had begun to build an unbreakable bond and to leave now is painful, like I’m letting my brothers down. They’ll continue to have fun and finish this thing we started and I’ll enjoy my family. Maybe someday, I’ll be able to bring them down here or maybe not, could be this was my only chance for this trip.

Oh well, such is life. I can’t have it all.

I am so excited to see AJ and the kids. AJ is truly special to do this, come all the way down here to rescue me. She is a one of a kind, my true hero.

Day 5 Bruceport Park, WA (morning edition)

I slept hard last night. The ratio of time spent half asleep vs passed out exhaustion was heavily in favour of the latter, a very welcome change from nights past. I have some serious sleep apnea (stop breathing during m sleep 51 times and hour for an average of 31 seconds each time) requiring a breathing machine but I didn’t bring that. One of the other guys brought his and I’ve been trying to get AJ to find a way to mail me mine. Throughout all of her efforts, in the midst of screaming kids and an increasingy frustrated me trying to talk to her on the phone while pedalling up a hill, it just wasn’t worth it. Easily going to cost over $200 and they couldn’t guarantee that it’d get where I wanted due to customs. So with all that said, I’m grateful for the hardy sleep last night.

I’m taking extra time this morning. Peter is bubbly and positive as always and he’s been packed up for an hour. I’ve said that I’m going to ride on my own today to Astoria although everyone is still here and some are only half packed.

I’ve been riding with a lot of noise in my head. I’m up again today, lamenting my day and task and this is not what I want for this trip. I am hoping to find surrender today by riding alone. I seem to be able to figure that out best on my own. To use an analogy, this bike tour has been like a giant meditation where I’m constantly fighting against myself to relax and allow things to be.

I read a friend’s post about my blog from last night saying how it was her favourite so far; so in my analytic way, I question what was different in me. I wrote alone, in my tent, after everyone was asleep and I was also exhausted. I noticed that the words I wrote struck a chord of heft in me, seeming to better encapsulate my experience as a whole. Iwas surprised last night because I expected to complain again a lot. Yesterday was really tough and that’s not all it was.

There’s a giant tree that stands opposite my tent looking across the picnic table where we commune. I’ve been looking at that tree all morning. It is beautiful and I wonder what stories it would tell of the people that it’s seen. I wonder what stories they would tell.

My goal for today is to relax and to be with myself, have acceptance of who I am in my world without a good or bad lens

Day 4 Schafer Creek State Park, WA – Bruceport Park, WA (140km)

We’re all bedded down now, it’s 10:30 and we had a big day. Our original plan was to cycle 70km but that didn’t seem enough given the goals at hand. We had hopes of finding a nice pub drink have a burger and a beer at in Raymond, WA but they don’t really do that AND, more importantly, they don’t have any decent place to camp. So, as tired as we were, we rode another 16km, through dusk, to this beautiful little park on the side of the Pacific Ocean. We didn’t get much chance to get a lay of the land but we did practice our setting up camp in the dark skills. Peter, still reminds us begrudgingly, that he forgot his head lamp on the table at home.

There wasn’t any cooking done tonight. We stopped for a bite to eat at the Dairy Queen in Raymond. One of the Surly’s wanted ice cream. It was a very warm day, once it wasn’t cold anymore.

We saw some beautiful countryside and today I got to truly appreciate our tour. One of the most excited things for me when cycle touring is seeing the changes of landscap pass by as we ride our bicycles. Yesterday, as we headed inland, we climbed up over clearcuts and saw enormous mountain scapes in the background. Today, we rode through the rolling hills amidst lush green forests draped in mosses and lichen.

I was very excited to be riding along the Chehalis river. In British Columbia, the Chehalis river is a beautiful, wild, pristine creature. I was imagining this version would be one of the same. Sadly, I was so wrong. There is a lot of industry along the river. If you ever wonder where all the Weyerhaueser mills went in Canada, well they went here.  There were so many, 13 or more maybe, I lost count after 2.

The Chehalis empties into the massive bay that funnels through a tiny opening into the vast Pacific Ocean. What I missed out on in scenery opportunities was made up 100 fold once we got to the ocean. Brek and I rode to the beach and pushed our bikes up and over the sand dunes to pay homage to the ocean, where it was really big. Haha Seriously though, I was and am in awe and this is one of the reasons that I am on this trip. This is a taste of what we’re supposed to find in Oregon.

After the dilly dallying, Brek and I had some miles to make up so we chewed up 20k in 40 minutes. I am proud of that. We work well together, drafting and pulling each other. I over did it though and felt soreness in my knee. I came off fairly scott free though. Peter and Brian were labouring at times. Each one of us was very happy to be done for the day. Brek said that he had a wonderful ride today and thanked us all for being a part of it. It was pretty spectacular and I think would be even more enjoyable with a certain level of fitness.

Brek has done this a time or two though and he knows the mind tricks of the trade to get a little more out of himself and others. He’s very positive, and helpful. He only gets irritated when one of us doesn’t change a tire properly.

Anyway, tomorrow should be a gentler day. I’m surely looking forward to that and hopefully it’ll be enough for the others to heal up.

Good night from the road.

Day 4 Schafer Creek State Park, WA – Bruceport Park, WA (140km)

We’re all bedded down now, it’s 10:30 and we had a big day. Our original plan was to cycle 70km but that didn’t seem enough given the goals at hand. We had hopes of finding a nice pub drink have a burger and a beer at in Raymond, WA but they don’t really do that AND, more importantly, they don’t have any decent place to camp. So, as tired as we were, we rode another 16km, through dusk, to this beautiful little park on the side of the Pacific Ocean. We didn’t get much chance to get a lay of the land but we did practice our setting up camp in the dark skills. Peter, still reminds us begrudgingly, that he forgot his head lamp on the table at home.

There wasn’t any cooking done tonight. We stopped for a bite to eat at the Dairy Queen in Raymond. One of the Surly’s wanted ice cream. It was a very warm day, once it wasn’t cold anymore.

We saw some beautiful countryside and today I got to truly appreciate our tour. One of the most excited things for me when cycle touring is seeing the changes of landscap pass by as we ride our bicycles. Yesterday, as we headed inland, we climbed up over clearcuts and saw enormous mountain scapes in the background. Today, we rode through the rolling hills amidst lush green forests draped in mosses and lichen.

I was very excited to be riding along the Chehalis river. In British Columbia, the Chehalis river is a beautiful, wild, pristine creature. I was imagining this version would be one of the same. Sadly, I was so wrong. There is a lot of industry along the river. If you ever wonder where all the Weyerhaueser mills went in Canada, well they went here.  There were so many, 13 or more maybe, I lost count after 2.

The Chehalis empties into the massive bay that funnels through a tiny opening into the vast Pacific Ocean. What I missed out on in scenery opportunities was made up 100 fold once we got to the ocean. Brek and I rode to the beach and pushed our bikes up and over the sand dunes to pay homage to the ocean, where it was really big. Haha Seriously though, I was and am in awe and this is one of the reasons that I am on this trip. This is a taste of what we’re supposed to find in Oregon.

After the dilly dallying, Brek and I had some miles to make up so we chewed up 20k in 40 minutes. I am proud of that. We work well together, drafting and pulling each other. I over did it though and felt soreness in my knee. I came off fairly scott free though. Peter and Brian were labouring at times. Each one of us was very happy to be done for the day. Brek said that he had a wonderful ride today and thanked us all for being a part of it. It was pretty spectacular and I think would be even more enjoyable with a certain level of fitness.

Brek has done this a time or two though and he knows the mind tricks of the trade to get a little more out of himself and others. He’s very positive, and helpful. He only gets irritated when one of us doesn’t change a tire properly.

Anyway, tomorrow should be a gentler day. I’m surely looking forward to that and hopefully it’ll be enough for the others to heal up.

Good night from the road.

Day 4 Schafer Creek State Park, WA – Bruceport Park, WA (140km)

We’re all bedded down now, it’s 10:30 and we had a big day. Our original plan was to cycle 70km but that didn’t seem enough given the goals at hand. We had hopes of finding a nice pub drink have a burger and a beer at in Raymond, WA but they don’t really do that AND, more importantly, they don’t have any decent place to camp. So, as tired as we were, we rode another 16km, through dusk, to this beautiful little park on the side of the Pacific Ocean. We didn’t get much chance to get a lay of the land but we did practice our setting up camp in the dark skills. Peter, still reminds us begrudgingly, that he forgot his head lamp on the table at home.

There wasn’t any cooking done tonight. We stopped for a bite to eat at the Dairy Queen in Raymond. One of the Surly’s wanted ice cream. It was a very warm day, once it wasn’t cold anymore.

We saw some beautiful countryside and today I got to truly appreciate our tour. One of the most excited things for me when cycle touring is seeing the changes of landscap pass by as we ride our bicycles. Yesterday, as we headed inland, we climbed up over clearcuts and saw enormous mountain scapes in the background. Today, we rode through the rolling hills amidst lush green forests draped in mosses and lichen.

I was very excited to be riding along the Chehalis river. In British Columbia, the Chehalis river is a beautiful, wild, pristine creature. I was imagining this version would be one of the same. Sadly, I was so wrong. There is a lot of industry along the river. If you ever wonder where all the Weyerhaueser mills went in Canada, well they went here.  There were so many, 13 or more maybe, I lost count after 2.

The Chehalis empties into the massive bay that funnels through a tiny opening into the vast Pacific Ocean. What I missed out on in scenery opportunities was made up 100 fold once we got to the ocean. Brek and I rode to the beach and pushed our bikes up and over the sand dunes to pay homage to the ocean, where it was really big. Haha Seriously though, I was and am in awe and this is one of the reasons that I am on this trip. This is a taste of what we’re supposed to find in Oregon.

After the dilly dallying, Brek and I had some miles to make up so we chewed up 20k in 40 minutes. I am proud of that. We work well together, drafting and pulling each other. I over did it though and felt soreness in my knee. I came off fairly scott free though. Peter and Brian were labouring at times. Each one of us was very happy to be done for the day. Brek said that he had a wonderful ride today and thanked us all for being a part of it. It was pretty spectacular and I think would be even more enjoyable with a certain level of fitness.

Brek has done this a time or two though and he knows the mind tricks of the trade to get a little more out of himself and others. He’s very positive, and helpful. He only gets irritated when one of us doesn’t change a tire properly.

Anyway, tomorrow should be a gentler day. I’m surely looking forward to that and hopefully it’ll be enough for the others to heal up.

Good night from the road.

Day 3 Quilcene, WA – Schafer State Park, WA (122.2km)

First and foremost, I was pretty miserable all day. I’ve been thinking the whole day what to write about. I could talk about breaking up a cycle tourer’s day beginning with the warmup and ending with the Swedish mile (last 10km of the day) but I don’t want to.

To give you a brief history of our day, it started with a big hill; about 5km of a hill. Brian had done this last April and took 3 hours to get up it. We weren’t going to let that happen today. In all it took about 1 hour to ride to the hill and go up. I was somewhat uplifted knowing the biggest climb of the day was behind us. Unfortunately, we were only 8k into the day. Not even a warmup for my saddle sores.

Anyway, we stopped a lot and spent 11 hours on the road riding 122km. With 20k left, I somehow missed a turn which added 5k to our day. I was so tired, fall asleep on my bike tired, and I was having a hard time keeping up with the gang. I let them go ahead to be able to put on music. I really needed a pick-me-up. I checked my phone only to realize that we were on the wrong route.  I was a long way behind so I didn’t catch them right until the turnoff to go back up the road we should have gone. Oh well, we’re all here now and not one person is phased save for Brian, who’s still unsure whether I’m fucking with him, adding 5k extra to his day.

There were some beautiful bits to the day, riding through big trees, feeling strong on gently downhill slopes, riding along the last of the inlet before turning inland and being able to swim in the oyster fields; oh and finding $0.99 corndogs. I had three.

It’s amazing to me how we can wake up and be shivering, looking at our breath in the air and then later, I’m cramping up from dripping all of my sweat out of my pores.

I just want to say that I’m riding with a great group of guys. They have been joking and having fun all day and putting up with my crap. Don’t get me wrong, I was a piece of the fun at times too. It’s just that today felt like a massively complainy type day.

Highlights of the day: swimming in the inlet and being able to rinse clean my three day, salt stained shirt. Brek came up with a nickname for us; the 4 Surly’s (because we all ride Surly bikes), the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and Brian. Brian is just so great, he doesn’t need to be flavoured up. It amazes me that he’s not famous yet.

Special note about yesterday that I forgot to write about. I was riding on my own towards the ferry, Brek and Peter had stopped behind me and Brian was ahead. Some guy in a yellow pickup had pulled over on the other side of the road and when I rode past, he said that he had read my blog this morning. I was a little surprised, kind of stunned really and kept riding. My reaction to him in my head was, gee thanks for reading. I have a habit of missing a moment (having missed my sister’s big surprise when her and her friend Kathy drove up from Toronto to greet me along my cross Canada tour. I saw her, I just didn’t stop. I was making great time and I couldn’t stop). After some reflection, I turned around to see him walking towards Brek and Peter. Turns out he and his wife are neighbours of Peter and go way back.