Thursday, December 30, 2010

Some People Read. I Travel.

Since returning to Canada, I've had a few people ask me why I travel so much. It's a hard question to answer because I feel the answer is so obvious. Does anyone ever ask a person why they read so much? It's the same thing. Why do people watch television? It is in our nature to want to experience more. The very existence of the 3D Home theatre is a testament to the human desire to experience more and to experience it in the most real sense possible. 

Life is great. Variety is great. And the more of it you experience, the more you can appreciate every magnificent detail of it. Travel is the ultimate book/movie. Each trip has it's own soundtrack. It's own supporting cast. It's own elaborate set. It's own smells and tastes. And I get to be the protagonist every time!

This time I am en route from Frankfurt to Prague, cruising down the autobahn with a friend from Amsterdam. It's a short, but sweet, story. The sound track is pretty good (I'm the dj) and the setting is like a storybook.
Don't get me wrong, the five hour drive from Calgary to Jasper is stunning. But, in the same time, here I am crossing a national boundary, traversing 500km of eastern europe. I just finished a book on the German occupation during WWII and, seeing the ground covered in snow, the icy fog hovering over the trees, I feel that I understand it better. Just being here makes this book is so much more relevant. Though I could never truly appreciate what it was like from the comfort of my friend's 2009 mini cooper, I could at least ponder a bit more accurately what it might have been like. Everything has more meaning when you can feel it and see it for yourself. Sell your books and buy a ticket. To anywhere.
We eventually got to our place in Prague, sans GPS. We did it old school, with a map. Analog GPS, if you will. We didn't get there first, but we still got there. And it was better than reading a book.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Apres Ski Party. Frankfurt.

Some people savour their 30th birthday by celebrating faux-30th's on the years that follow. I prefer to just make younger friends and relive the big 3-0 through them. It saves me the hassle of sending out invites or dealing with the dreaded post-party clean up. The catch is that most of my younger friends don't live in Canada, which means some travel is in order. 

I've been through Frankfurt many times, but never left the airport. Finally, I found an excuse to get into the city. Johannes's 30th birthday. One more reason to love having friends in different cities.
I love a good outdoor party and, as a Canadian, I can truly appreciate a party where ski jackets are part of the dress code. I can also appreciate when furniture is constructed from snow/ice.
But what I appreciate the most is reuniting with friends. Thanks, Johannes. And Happy Birthday.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Good Day. Sunshine.

I'm an unapologetic fair weather rider. Especially when it comes to the cold. I like it when I can feel my fingers and toes. I like it when my speech is not impaired by involuntary convulsions. I like it when the contents of my water bottle are not frozen.
Fortunately, mother nature dished up a couple of relatively nice days for me to test out my new wheels. In my usual blinders-on fashion, I accompanied a few of my friends for a ride on Sunday. I'm not saying that it was a bad ride (for the record, it was awesome), I'm just saying that a girl could choose a more gentle re-entry into the sport than a winter ride with three super fit dudes, one of whom is now a pro.

It took me a few hours to crawl back to the city after I broke from the group. Shattered is a strong word. And I'm not afraid to use it to describe how I felt rolling into Panorama Hills. There's a different word that I would use to describe the 15km that followed. But it was a good day. With lots of sunshine. And good friends. Winter riding isn't so bad, I guess.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Hallelujah. A bike is born.
Long Haul TrFucker
Born December 24, 2010 at 9:27am
24 pounds 8 ounces
Designed by Tori Fahey and Craig Stappler
Built by Craig Stappler, Shawn Bunnin, Pat Doyle, Tori Fahey and Erik Bakke

About the bike:
While the mix of road and mountain as well as new and used components might make this machine appear to have been thrown together without thought, this may be one of the most thoughtfully built bikes that I own. Every piece was thoughtfully selected based on the task for which it was built. And, wherever possible, we used non-new parts. This bastard of a bike is actually a love child of many fathers; with parts from four different bikes and five builders contributing to its assembly. Adding to the love-in, I am in the process of decorating the bike with notes from friends and family.
I chose a touring frame over a suspension frame because I wanted something that I could service myself and that did not have specialized components that would be difficult to replace/repair in Africa. What I loose in comfort, I hope to make up in ease of use. The Surly Long Haul Trucker stood out as hands down the best frame option in the touring frame category. In my size (46cm) of frame, it fits 26 inch wheels, which I have found to be much more common outside of North America than the road standard 700c wheels. Further, the tire clearance is wide enough that I can run a cross or mountain tire (1.6-2.1 inch) on the wheels for the rougher sections of the tour. I'm using an Ultegra road crank (triple) and an XT mountain cassette, which should provide more gears than I can handle. Brakes are Tektro Oryx cantilevers. Wheels are DT swiss 240 hubs with Mavic 717 rims (hand built just for me by Pat Doyle). Handlebars are Salsa Woodchippers. This is new territory for me, but the bars look particularly well designed for this sort of touring.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Family Time. Hawaii.

Sometimes shitty weather is a gift from god. Like a few days ago when I got stuck overnight in San Francisco on an unexpected weather delay. Who says that travel interruptions have to be entirely unpleasant?

Sure, it delayed my arrival to Hawaii, but it did present me with an opportunity to enjoy a night on the town in SFO with some INSEAD friends. Chinese food at Heaven's Dog (I would have been worried if it had been a Korean restaurant). Five star hotel. Not bad.

Following my eventual touchdown in Kona, we headed straight to the beach. It takes all of 30 seconds to get into this place. I remember the first time my parents brought me to Hawaii, I was so captivated by the ocean that I took rolls upon rolls of pictures of the ocean.
I'm still captivated by it. But, I've stopped taking lame pictures of the ocean. What brought me here was not the waves, the warmth or the sunshine. It was quality time with my parents. 
And, though they live only 10km from my house, it was worth every mile to come out here. Something about being removed from the distractions of home frees us to just enjoy each others company.
Thanks Mom and Dad. I look forward to making more memories like this with you every year.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kickin' it Old School

Sure, this has been my 'primary residence' for almost nine years, but that doesn't mean I can't have a housewarming party. I have friends that I haven't seen for ages. I live one block from the university. I'm newly single. The conditions are perfect. It kind of reminds me of a housewarming party that I saw in a movie one time...

Except...replace the Speaker City mega entertainment system with borrowed Altec Lansing computer speakers and a bike to decorate.
replace binging on alcohol with with binging on Qua's homemade cookies.
replace the beer funnel with a wine decanter
replace Snoop setting the crowd on fire with Steve setting a dishrag on fire
and replace the streaking with an old fashioned dance off. Trish style. 
It was good to warm the house; my doormat seemed just a bit happier for the company. I hope this is the first of many gatherings. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Painting My Own Picture

I haven't always had a problem painting within the lines and following convention. I haven't!

I used to be a girl guide, you know. Well decorated, too. Sure, I cheated on a few badges, but crafts aren't exactly a critical life skill anyway.

But, now that I'm finished with business school, the blueprint seems to guide me to finding a j-o-b again. And, I'm not sure this picture is going to turn out how it was initially intended.

So, what's next? Well, after seven years of fantasizing about it, I'm finally going to ride my bicycle across Africa. Cairo to Cape Town. 12,000km over the course of four months. With strangers. Starting in January.

I'm not really sure what the whole picture will end up looking like, but this seems to be a start of something interesting. At least to me. But, hey, I'm the one who has to look at that picture every day. So, who cares if I paint outside the lines.