At the Bike Show

There is something about going to a bicycle show that really gets my heart pumping.  I go to walk through row up on row of bikes and stuff.  There were mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrid bikes and cross bikes.  There were tools, tires, clothes and helmets.  The best way to describe it would be to call it a toy store for adults.
The only thing that bothered me was the entry price.  I find it rather unfair that one has to pay to go shopping.  It is like having a daily admission price to Costco.  The price was 15 dollars, and I would rather have spent that money on something else.  However, I know there are a lot of costs in putting a show like that on (security, rentals etc) but they could have at least given us a break on the food.
I would have to say that cycling is rather popular.  There were so many people who were interested in cycling.  And most of them were also very friendly.
I didn’t go to the show to shop, but rather to find out about cycling vacations.  I am really interested in going on a cycling trip somewhere.  I collected quite a few route maps and found quite a few cycling destinations.  Now I just have to get in shape because some of the routes seem rather ambitious.
As for swag–I was hoping for more.  I came home with lots of trail and route maps, some back issues of magazines and even a tool catalogue.  However, I was expecting more.  I hoped for some socks, or a t-shirt, maybe a free water bottle… something.   I guess it isn’t a car show.

Cycling: What I Have Learned So Far

As I push ever farther into the world of cycling I have learned lots of fascinating things.  I have been thinking of getting a new bike, but with winter approaching (add as many Game of Thrones quotes as you want here) I am wondering if I should wait.  As a result of this indecision, I have been doing a lot of research.

Ø      Not far from where I live, there exists a 15 km or so (it is longer, but construction issues for bridges and such has blocked off part of the trail until next year).  I have ridden it a couple of times and it was amazing.  If you want to read about my ride and see some great pictures, please click on the link here:

Ø      There are a huge number of bike shops in my area, and along my commute path, and near my work.  I had no idea cycling was so popular.  When I was young, only children rode bikes.  The upside of this is lots of places to shop.  The downside is that even places which sold reasonable bikes now have some higher end bikes, and prices seem quite high.  I mean, I have seen bikes which cost as much as my car did when I bought it new.

Ø      There are a lot of magazines devoted to the hobby/pursuit.  I have counted about 10, and I am sure there are more.  That’s incredible.  Whoever said the printing medium was done was obviously wrong.  Despite the complaints of these magazines just being glossy catalogues that push expensive and unnecessary products on the gullible, there is some decent writing between the pages.

Ø      There is a crapload of extras for the cycling crowd.  Is all of it necessary?  Of course not.  Is some of it vanity driven?  Absolutely.   Does it affect me….. sadly, I have to answer yes.

Ø      I like riding a bike much more than going to a gym.  Seems pretty obvious, but that is what fuels the decision to buy a nice bike.  Living in a climate which produces bone chilling cold and snow for a large part of the year doesn’t help.

Summing it all up.  I am definitely interested in this hobby.  Where I take it from here, only time will tell.

Back in the Saddle Again

Okay, I succumbed to tool lust.  I bought the bike repair stand.  I admit it.  And yes, I have been to several bike shops.  I probably don’t need the big box of tools, because I have lots of other ones.

The good news is that I have so far resisted the urge to buy a new bike.  I used the bike stand to tune up my neglected bike.  So, I feel pretty good.

I even took the bike out today.  I realized three things. 

  1. I, in fact, do love riding.  It felt great to get the bike moving at a good speed.
  2. My cardio is terrible.  Despite losing some weight, I really need to up my cardiovascular training.  Fortunately, that was the reason for getting on the bike again in the first place.  Why go to the gym and get on an exercise bike when I can bike on an actual road.
  3. When you fall, or crash, it still hurts.  Yes, in my first bike ride in a couple of years, I had minor accident.  I was cutting through a catwalk that, rather than paved, consisted of rectangular concrete sidewalk patio stones (or something like that).  They had spread apart in the centre, leaving a gap just big enough for my front tire to find.  Escaping it resulted in a collision with a chain link fence, some scrapes, and a probable bruise.

On the plus side, I was rewarded with an encouraging number on the scale as well.

The Number Two Hobby I Would Take Up if I had Time, money,..etc–Kung Fu

As a kid I loved watching Kung Fu movies on weekend afternoons (I really can’t remember if it was Saturday or Sunday).  I was amazed by that stuff.  Some of my favourites were Super Ninjas, The Five Deadly Venoms, and the man with the Golden Arms (If I am not mistaken, this film has been remade and is out now at the theatres).  The moves were so cool and the extended fight scenes were fantastic.  I even thought that the weapons they used were cool–I remember scouring a Kung Fu magazine with friends trying to decided which weapons we should order–of course we never did.

I have always been fascinated with the martial arts.  In this case, money is not the issue.  I deem the money spent on tuition at a school worth the money.  I see martial arts as benefitting me not only in fitness, but in calmness of mind as well.  While a year’s fees would be high, they would be just as expensive as going to a gym (well maybe a little more).

The biggest problems are location, time and comfort.  There are lots of places to study martial arts, but it depends on what you want to study.  The current popularity of MMA means that there are quite a few places to study that, but that isn’t really what I am interested in (though I do like it, do see its value, and respect what it teaches).  Most places I have seen are tucked away in industrial areas of the city.  Some are convenient, some are not.

When it comes to time, I will always have this problem because I am a commuter.  Getting out of work, and getting to the classes on a scheduled time only works if the classes are later in the evening.  Most places I have been to tend to split the schedule so that it would only be possible half the time.  Maybe I could get there, but I would have to eat my dinner on the bus–possible, but not attractive.

Comfort is the really big factor.  I encourage everyone who is thinking about taking a class to take advantage of any trial offer, or trial class.  Don’t be fooled by glitz and glamour.  You have to be comfortable with the environment, the teachers, the atmosphere and attitude of the class.  Everyone is different and not every school fits every person.

In my case, I would love to study Kung Fu.  I found a school that I really liked, but its location made it impossible to get to.  I would also love to study Kendo, but mostly due to laziness I have not pursued this (also because it isn’t really as practical as Kung Fu or MMA).

I will keep looking.

Hobbies I would take up: The bottom 5 (part 4)

I am a big fan of tennis.  It is a sport that has everything I am looking for.  It has good one on one competition, requires finesse as well as brute strength, and can be played with a low number of people.

squash, at least on the surface, has those same qualities, though brute strength is needed less.  The one difference seems to be about location.  In the fine summer months (and the spring and fall, if you don’t mind the cold, the giant puddles on the court and sometimes the pile of leaves) you can play tennis outdoors.  Squash, as far as I know, always has to be played indoors.

This minor difference really means you have to join a gym, or club, or community centre.  While this is not particularly daunting, it does require scheduling that tennis doesn’t.  You can’t just call your friend and say, “Squash in 30 minutes.”  You’ve got to call the court, make a booking….. and all that standard stuff.  If the facilities are popular, there is no way you’re going to get a court on short notice.

Of course you also need people to play with.  Most people have a tennis racquet, or could borrow one.  The number of people who have a squash racquet kicking around seems much smaller.

I tried joining a league, but there schedule really didn’t allow for commuters.  I could make later games, but there was no way I could make the early starts.  Perhaps there was a way of accommodating my needs, only time will tell.

I would take this one up, it there were some easy way to get it done.  (And yes, I know, there is probably an app for that–but then again, there is probably squash on the Xbox Kinnect.


Despite what it seems like from my previous posts I also take part in hobbies that require some physical fitness.  For the past few years, I have been an avid tennis player.  This is no mean feat as I live in a country which experiences some low temperatures, and unlike this past winter, has a decent amount of snowfall.

Like most sports, and unlike most of my other hobbies, it requires scheduling.  People are busy, courts are full, and sometimes it’s raining.    Of course sometimes your tennis clothes are unwashed, your tennis shoes are chew toys for the family dog and that brand new can of tennis balls won’t be found until you purchase another one.

I read a book by Haruki Murakami on jogging.  He made the point that jogging was one physical activity you didn’t need a partner for.  He makes a good point.  I have tried tennis alone, me against the school wall.  Sadly, I haven’t found a high enough wall, so this man versus wall confrontation only serves to lose those newly found tennis balls.

Perhaps the biggest appeal of tennis is that it so clearly illustrates that technique and finesse can overcome raw power and fitness (meaning an older, heavier guy with some skills can beat a young, fit guy who doesn’t seem to get tired, and can still rush the net after several hours in the hot sun)  As I get older, I take great solace in such a thing.

In terms of money, because everything looks good until you consider how much it’s going to cost you, tennis doesn’t have to be expensive.  A pair of shoes lasts a long time.  A racquet needn’t cost that much.  I bought mine at the end of the season–actually I played for about two more months, but some of those nights were rather cold–for 50% off.  Tennis balls are cheap, and who cares what you’re wearing–though ladies, the tennis dress does look fabulous on you.

Weather is a factor, but there are ways to overcome that too. For one glorious winter I belonged to a tennis club.  I played two or three times a week and never once worried about the snow.  Sadly, that is no longer economically possible.  Things have changed, and prices have gone up.  However, it was wonderful.  There were water coolers for every court, the nets were regulation, and there were some talented tennis dress clad women on adjacent courts.

Spring has come early, and the tennis nets are up.  I have been out twice this year and enjoyed it both times.  I can’t say as I am in prime shape yet, but I feel good about the effort.