Spring Guy’s Weekend

Juliette was away last weekend on an executive retreat, so I decided to invite everyone down to the chalet for a weekend of mountain biking. Several of us took Friday off for a long weekend. I arrived Thursday night to several inches of snow and was worried when Dave and I went for an early morning ride and the snow made it so bad that we only managed 4km in just under an hour.

Matt, George, Adam, Nick, Derek and Paul arrived throughout the day on Friday. We went for an afternoon ride in Ellicottville and rode up from the training centre. The snow had been melting all day, so the trails were very muddy and slippery, but much better than the trails around the chalet.

Saturday we decided to ride at Sprague Brook. It was a great ride with some fun downhills and flowing sections. It was also much drier except for the river crossings with the spring flows.

I bought a recurve bow recently, so Dave and I built a target and we all spent many of our spare hours firing arrows down range. I was originally worried about the 50 lbs pull on the bow, but after just a week I am getting stronger and my aim steadier.

Sunday was finally warm and spring like and we did another long ride around the trails near Ellicottville. The trails were in much better condition after the weekend.

I have uploaded the photos from the weekend to the Guy’s Weekend if you want to see them.

Paris to Ancaster 2012

Juliette and I rode the Paris to Ancaster race today. It is a 60km cyclocross race through muddy trails, dirt roads and rail trails. It poured rain just before the start of the race, then drizzled through the first half of the race, so the trails were extremely muddy making it the hardest year I have ridden it.

To be honest, most years I find the race really boring with very little technical riding and too many people, but the conditions today made for a fun time. I always love an epic!

I’ve been sick for a few weeks and haven’t been training, plus we signed up late and were in the slower third wave, so I decided not to race it this year, just ride hard with Juliette. That too made for a fun race. We make a great team riding and the tougher it gets the more fun we tend to have.

I’ve uploaded a few photos from the race to the photo albums and to Facebook if you want to see a few very muddy people.

Easter in Ottawa

This year for Easter (and my birthday,) Juliette and I decided to head to Ottawa to visit Sharlene and her children. We hadn’t seen Sharlene in about nine years, so the visit was long overdue.

For those of you who do not know her, Sharlene and I have known each other for nearly twenty years. We met at Bon Echo and quickly became good friends and regular climbing partners. A few years after I left the military, Sharlene and her husband Bob moved to Edmonton and our friendship continued with just the odd email and Facebook message. Despite that, I still consider Sharlene to be one of my closest friends and missed her presence in my life.

Sharlene moved back to their place in Quebec recently, so it was time to rekindle our friendship. Bob and her own a beautiful cottage on the Gatineau river about 20 minutes outside of Ottawa. It is a beautiful home in a beautiful location and it was a lovely place to spend the weekend.

Sharlene has three children, Karina, Bjorn and Kieran. We had only met Karina just after she was born, but I felt like I knew all of them after watching them grow up through their pictures online. It was a bit weird meeting them all and feeling like I knew them even though they didn’t know me.

In all it was a beautiful weekend. It was great to finally get to know the kids and to see Sharlene again. If anything, I wish it wasn’t so short and that I had more of a chance to catch up with Sharlene. Hopefully we will get another chance to do that soon.

On our way back home, I decided to see another person that I haven’t seen in about twenty five years. While I was growing up, my mom’s long-time boyfriend was John Tucker. John was a father figure to my sister and I throughout our formative years and I have him to thank for a fair amount of who I am today.

I was a bit nervous reconnecting after all these years, but in many ways it felt like we weren’t separated by all those years. It is funny how time doesn’t seem to weaken the bonds between some people.

I have never been good at keeping in touch with people. The years in the military gave me a very casual attitude towards friends and partings with the constant change, but as I grow older it is one of the things that I regret.

I believe that it is the relationships we form that define our lives and give us purpose, so my birthday present to myself this year was the chance to rekindle two relationships that are important to me. For that, I think it was one of the best birthdays yet.

I have uploaded a few photos from the weekend to the photo albums if anyone is interested.

Family Photos

When my grandfather passed away last Christmas, one of the things that he left behind was thousands of photos and dozens of old movies. Most of these have not been seen in decades, so I decided to take on the project of converting as much as I can to a digital format so that I can share it with the rest of the family.

I’ve done a test run of just over one hundred old slides. I have taken the time to add keywords, dates and titles as best I can, but I would appreciate help with identifying people and places.

As I can, I will continue to scan in the slides, then I will start recording videos of the movies to share. It is a very time consuming process, so it could take awhile. The wait should be worth it though.

Skiing in Sweden

Photography course at Freeride campJuliette and I are back safe from Sweden and finally settled in. After a very long series of flights, we started at the pure freeride camp in Abisko. Tired and jetlagged, we joined a great group of people to ski Friday morning. Despite being well above the arctic circle, it was warm and raining lightly which turned to deep snow into deep slush. Unfortunately, on the first run, Juliette caught an edge in the bad snow and turned her knee, so we called it a day.

Juliette’s knee continued to bother her, so over the next couple of days, I skied with one of the groups in the morning and spent the afternoons with Juliette down in Abisko. The tourist center is a very nice place, but there isn’t much to do if you aren’t skiing, so by Sunday, Juliette was going a bit stir crazy and was anxious to move on to Riksgränsen for a change of scenery.

Snowed in at RiksgransenMonday, our first day at Riksgränsen, we woke to a crazy snowstorm that closed all of the roads and even the ski lifts, so we had yet another day of cabin fever. Juliette rented some snowshoes and organized an expedition to the grocery store with Jennie, but other than that, we spent the day trapped inside.

Tuesday, Jennie, Rich and I were booked to go heliskiing, so we watched the weather reports anxiously. We woke in the morning to bright sunshine and deep fresh powder, heliskiing was on!

HeliskiingWe spent the morning getting shuttled up to the peaks in the helicopter and skiing to wonderful powder down into the valleys. I had taken a ski photography course in Abisko, so I put all of my new skills to the test and came home with some great shots and even better memories.

Juliette’s knee was still sore, stiff and weak, but she spent the morning skiing at Riksgränsen and we joined her for the afternoon. Skiing on a bad knee is tough though and she twisted it again ending her day with a long painful ski down.

That evening, we drove into Norway and down into Narvik where we found a beautiful little pub with friendly staff and amazing food. It was a welcome change.

Wednesday, we drove to the Ice Hotel near Kiruna for a chance to see it, then caught the overnight train south. We had originally been heading to Salarna to ski tour, but with Juliette injured and my knee starting to act up too, we decided to cancel that part of our trip and head for Stockholm via Gävle, Jen and Rich’s home town. More on that part of the trip in the next post.

I took over a thousand pictures with my new camera while I was there and have spent the last week paring them down into a manageable number. The first half, the ski photos are up and the remaining photos will probably be uploaded tomorrow.