Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Cold hands? No more!

 Minus 4 Celsius (24.8 F.) this morning.

Yesterday I happened to be at Winners with Susan. I wandered over to a wall of gloves and poked around until I found a pair of ski mitts. For $20 it was worth a shot.

This morning I did a 8.55 km frosty outdoor loop.


I assumed that at one point or another I was going to need the little rechargeable hand-warmer in my pocket.


Not so! What a pleasant surprise.

To be honest I don't know why the mitts surprised me. There was a time when I used to ski. Mostly my hands were fine in mitts, I think.

Oh well.

On a side note, the Brompton stock bell that comes with every Brompton was not happy in the cold. I also had a little difficulty with my super bell (mitt clumsiness, it seems). On the other hand, I had no trouble using my WWII cricket clicker. Worked like a charm.

WWII cricket clicker????

Yes indeed. Picked it up a few weeks ago at the Canadian Juno Beach D-Day landing museum. 3 euros. Worth every centime! If you're interested, go to a museum boutique where you'll pay 3 euros, not Amazon, or Etsy,  where they'll charge $25.

I'll be back.

I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed posting to the blog.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Time to hibernate


This morning it was -4C (24.8F).

Nevertheless, though snow was in the forecast, it seemed willing to hold off till noon, so I followed my 'default' cycle route that amounts to 6.64 kms.:

I have adopted a layering approach to the weather that, in almost all respects, works really well for me.

It is based on the following items:

  • fingerless cycling gloves
  • waterproof gloves
  • a light versatile neck warmer I picked up in Florence years ago
  • a headband runner's ear warmer
  • a light down jacket
  • an ultralight windbreaker
  • a high-end waterproof jacket.
  • waterproof running shoes
I don't yet have waterproof pants, but they are on my radar.

All of these items are extremely packable, and come with me on all my travels. They will take me from a chilly or wet summer day, to a very wet rainy late September stroll in Paris from the Moulin Rouge to Galeries Lafayette, and then on to our hotel in the 5th, comfortably warm, bone dry, and umbrella-free; and all the way to this morning's very chilly ride, all in almost perfect comfort... except for my hands.

By the time I ended my ride this morning, two pairs of gloves (winter leather gloves plus glove liners), left me with uncomfortably cold hands - but always a warm heart.

Besides, snow is here. Witness our balcony bistro above.

What this all means, is that it's time to shift gears and move the morning cycle to the P2 Loop. Like a bear entering hibernation, if the bear rode a bike in its cave. Maybe circus bears?

In preparation for the shift, I took the Mini down to P2 and drove the Loop ten times: 1.6 kms. Last fall I used a counting application on my phone to count the number of loops in my usual ~34 minute morning riding routine: 60 P2 Loops. I'm far from a math wizard, but that seems to yield a 9.6 km morning ride. Not too shabby.

My average outdoor ride is 8.6 kms and lasts a little longer, to as much at 50 minutes for a ten or eleven kilometer jaunt. Outdoor rides have intersections with traffic lights, uphill grades, headwinds, pedestrians, dogs, cats, squirrels, coyotes, geese and photo ops. The P2 Loop has few things getting in the way of my ride. On the P2 Loop I'm more like a piston making its way around an engine block. So it makes sense that I cover more ground in less time on the P2 Loop, than on my usual rides above ground. Besides, all this data is the product of fancy computer applications, satellite links, and a spreadsheet. So it must be true. (20221116 Ed.: it's now tomorrow, and I did the P2 Loop this morning, with a 34 minute timer, and an application to count the loops to keep me honest, and the result was exactly 60 loops in 34 minutes, to the second. That means that my speed in the garage is a relatively constant 17 km/h. Also, my packable down jacket was all I needed for comfort. I had JazzFM91 streaming very softly in my AirPods. Overall a very zen-like way to cycle through the winter.)

And there you have it.

I have done my best to make a very boring shift underground as captivating as possible.

Speaking of cycling underground, did I mention that last month Susan fractured her collar bone crashing a bicycle into a stone wall, while on a guided tour of ten kilometers of pitch-black wine caves in the Loire valley? She's been convalescing nicely since the accident on October 2. This week she is more often sling-less, and physio is paying dividends. What a nightmare. 

_________________________________

Update: today, Friday, November 18, with a seasonal temperature of -3C (26F), I ventured outdoors for another ride. Riding outdoors has that much more appeal than the P2 Loop. This time I managed to wear my normal leather gloves over my Showers Pass waterproof gloves. It was a tight fit. By the time I got to my furthest point of that 8.92 kilometer ride, my hands were cold, but only my thumbs were cold to the point of discomfort. My conclusion is that heated gloves might be required. Everything else was nice and warm (except my legs, but who cares about cold legs?)

Here is the route  - home south to the residential streets just north of the 401, east to Bayview Avenue, then back west to Yonge and the 401, then home:




Monday, November 14, 2022

Building habits

Here I sit.

At the keyboard.

It's a weekday.

Another week.

If I weren't living in a calculated, intentional way, that might describe the basic rhythm of my life.

Thankfully, it doesn't.

I have had a little exercise routine that kicks off my mornings. 

I can't quite remember when the habit set in. It was definitely after our move to Toronto in 2016. There was an exercise hiatus from January to June in 2018 when I was qualifying for my license with the Law Society of Ontario. Six months of 10 to 12 hour days. Crazy. But very much worthwhile.

That period of intense work sitting at the keyboard resulted in a pain in the neck. A chiropractor  helped me to sort that out. Other body aches led me to MECH Physiotherapy. That resulted in 'homework'.

Self-imposed torture really, combined with my own exercise routine that I built from a variety of sources, including Mount Sinai's back care exercises, and inspiration and exercises plucked from Miranda Esmonde-White's Aging Backwards.

I mustn't leave the impression that I enjoy exercising. I don't. I need a prod. Not quite a cattle prod. More like a stiff index finger poke to the chest.

And that is where the most life-changing and life-affirming book came into play.

In October 2020, not that long ago.

That book is by James Clear. 

Sorry, but I have to digress just a bit.

I have this fantasy where I return to university to work on a graduate degree in sociology or anthropology, or psychology, to explore how our names affect our life choices. Like Bernie Madoff. I mean, he made off with millions! I have come across numerous other examples, where names seem to have set people's courses, often for the best, but like Bernie, in other directions as well. What about T****? I wonder. I decided quite a while back not to spell his name out. Colbert taught me that.

James Clear may well be an example. The introduction to his book, entitled simply My Story, is epic. Atomic Habits is the book. If I had to describe it in one word, that word would be "clear".

I digress no more.

Adopting good habits, like a daily exercise routine, or breaking bad habits, can be daunting.

I started smoking in my teens. I quit smoking successfully three times. The last time was on December 31st, 1983. The only New Years' resolution that ever stuck. Over all, I must have tried to quit smoking hundreds of times. Many attempts lasted mere hours.

James' theory is that failure is far more likely if you try to take big steps. That is the way most most of us attempt to tackle habits. And that's why people aren't more successful.

Thankfully, atomic habits have nothing in particular to do with nuclear particle physics.

Rather, James' theory is that by taking tiny steps in the right direction, it is much easier to build good habits, or break bad habits, and do so with a high rate of success. There's more to his approach than just baby steps. He provides excellent advice on building habit forming structures designed to promote success.

I don't want to get into minute detail. There is no way I could do the book justice. 

My advice is really simple. Get your hands on Atomic Habits and read it cover to cover. The only way it won't help you is if you are a monk, a saint, or the Dalai Lama.   

If exercising for, on average, eighteen minutes each weekday morning is something I don't like, riding is something I love to do.

I love to ride in the morning, preferably at or near dawn. Even better when fog casts a veil on the landscape. The trick I learned from Atomic Habits is that I will only allow myself to ride once I have done my exercises. James Clear taught me that.

Oh, the things I see on those rides. 

People...

... animals...










That's a coyote ambling along, minding its own business.

The landscape photos I take are always the landscapes that pretty much stop me in my tracks. The view compels the photo.








 It's difficult to understand when you look at those photos that I live on one of the busiest urban streets in Canada. Minutes north of what we call the "401". Twelve and more lanes of heavy, heavy, urban traffic. Our street, running north from the 401 to where we live, is lined by sky scrapers, including our condo complex. 

And yet on my daily Brompton rides that average just under nine kilometres within a radius of half that, there are those amazing vistas.

I am blessed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Another intersection

 I am at yet another point in my life on two wheels where important changes are underway.

I feel Susan and I have emerged from the pandemic, along with our family, a family that has grown exponentially since my retirement in 2015. From three kids, to six members of the family with our new son and daughters, to two grandchildren and now four grandchildren. Our immediate family has expanded to ten wonderful, cherished and well-loved members. What a joy, what an amazing joy.

But that is not the change I feel the need to discuss here.

This blog started in 2010 when I began commuting on a Vespa. I felt a need to pay forward all the invaluable advice and assistance I received from other moto-bloggers.

Those decisions, to commute on a Vespa, and to share my adventure on this blog, were life changing decisions. I could never have guessed the joy, friendships, discoveries and adventures that came my way as a direct result.

The move to Toronto and the recent pandemic have, once more, fundamentally changed things for me.

I work from home, so I don't commute. The pandemic killed the Toronto Moto-Scooter Club.

I have no reason to ride my Vespa. It sits mostly idle.

Riding a motorbike is risky. The more you ride, the more you learn, the better your skills, the greater your confidence, the more you ride.

Unfortunately the reverse equation is also true. The less I ride, the greater the perceived risk, the less I am inclined to ride.

There's that, and then there's the Brompton factor.

I have a long history of getting around on two wheels, it's a story I have shared here before, and there is no need to repeat it here.

I just love to ride, whether it's on a bicycle or a motorbike.

What I have most recently discovered, is that getting around on a bicycle is more satisfying for me in many ways than getting around on a Vespa.

Sure it's slower, but it was never about speed. The range is nowhere near comparable, but range is not by any means a simple consideration. The Vespa is unquestionably superior when the trip on two wheels is a long one, such as Toronto to Montreal and back.

The Brompton wins hands down however when leisurely exploring is the objective. The reason the Brompton wins is that anywhere you can walk, you can ride a Brompton. That's not so with a Vespa. Vespas are much better at exploring than cars, but are nowhere near as versatile and adaptable as Bromptons.

There is one particular aspect of the Brompton that is truly a game changer. It is unmatched by any other means of transportation I have ever used.

That's because the Brompton is a parasite.

Deeply ingrained parasitic qualities that serve as Bromptons' fundamental DNA are what distinguish Bromptons from all other forms of transportation.

Name your destination, then pick your vehicle: car, Vespa, subway, train, bus, airplane, or boat. With a few flicks of fingers and wrists the Brompton shrinks to suitcase dimensions. That's how my Brompton has gone from my home in Toronto, to be my exploration vehicle in downtown Toronto, and in Montreal, Ogunquit, and Vancouver. And that's just a start.

Have I ridden my Vespa in Montreal and Ogunquit? Yes.

But... and it's a huge BUT... my Vespa got me there on its own. My Brompton in each of those long range explorations piggybacked on other vehicles: In our car to Montreal and Maine, and on our Air Canada flight to Vancouver. When I rode a scooter in Toronto, or in Victoria, or a Vespa in Florida, or an MP3 in Tuscany,  it's because the scooter was rented or the Vespa was borrowed. That's great, but it's not the same as having your very own two-wheeler whisking you around.

In each case the Brompton is always by my side, whether in our car, on the subway, in a restaurant... yes, in a restaurant for one of my firm's team meeting events.

As you can see, what the Brompton really needs in order to be the perfect vehicle is a range extender.

And that is the segue-way to the introduction of my new toy.

What many of you do not know is that I have always been attracted to convertible sports cars. First when I was four or five years old to the MG TD, then later on to the 1960 Corvette that starred on Route 66, and on to the Triumph TR6 when I was a penniless student in college. When I was in Florida sitting in a car outside a shop where Susan was picking up treats for kids, I saw my first Miata. And that was it. In June of 1993 I bought a very special 1990 Miata. That car was mine for seventeen or eighteen years. Nothing quite compares to the joy of driving a sporty manual-shift convertible with the top down.

I sold my Miata to my friend Marc because it just couldn't compete with my Vespa in terms of the joy of getting around. It was just sitting idle. That's not good for a machine.

From time to time I regretted that decision, but it was the right one at the time. 

For the past year or so the convertible itch has been begging to be scratched. I recently came into some mad money and that's what led me to the six-speed manual shift 2012 Mini Cooper S Cabriolet that is now sitting in our second parking sport.

And now the Vespa is sitting idle. The Brompton is in part to blame, aided and abetted by the Mini Cooper now serving as a delightful range extender for the Brompton. 

Long, long, long story short, the Vespa will be sold.

Yes it's sad. Truly it is.

But life goes on.

What about this blog?

It no longer serves its initial purpose, that's for sure.

I may return to it, after this long absence, more as a personal journal, as a means of sharing the interesting things Susan and I do. Like Paris this fall (no, the Bromptons are sitting that one out).

I have taken to bicycle rides each weekday morning. They happen at about 7:00 a.m. and run between six and twelve kilometres in our neighbourhood. When I come across a scene that I find remarkable, I stop and snap a photo with my phone. 

I should share that with you.

As for YouTube videos, much as I enjoyed making them, the effort far outweighs the benefit. The advertising on YouTube is so intrusive and pervasive that I have no interest in contributing painstaking efforts to generate advertising revenue for Google.

Bye for now.

Keep an eye on this space, there may just be some stuff worth seeing.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.