Todmorden Mills

I know it’s been …. forever since my last post. No excuses. Just busy busy busy. Still, I felt guilty so here’s a photo from Todmorden Mills. I went all freaky with the original colour — high contrast, deep colours, then in a new layer I took out the colour and erased some of the black and white bits to reveal the red bricks and some colourful stuff on my bike.

If  YOU want to ride your bike to Todmorden Mills in Toronto, then the long way is either north along the Don River Trail (if you are starting nearish the lakeshore) until Pottery Road. Take the walkway under the bridge heading east until you reach Todmorden Mills. If you are riding south from around Sunnybrook Park, then you wind your way to the Don River Trail also to Pottery Road, be careful crossing over to the walkway and follow the same route east to the mills. The easy was is to find yourself riding north on Broadview Road until Pottery Road (the corner where the delicious Dairy Queen is located) and simply follow the walkway downhill to the mills. And regardless of your route, your efforts definitely deserve a DQ treat. May I suggest the cherry cheesequake blizzard? I love that it so much my heart hurts that one isn’t in my hands right now.

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Another critter captured on a memory card

I rode my bike 16 km (10 miles) today through Mount Pleasant Cemetery, along the Beltline, and down the ravine in the Cedarvale Park. It was a lovely day — a bit of sunshine, warmth, some cloud and cool breezes. I enjoyed today’s ride and managed to take a terrible photo of what I think is a Baltimore Oriole and a photo of an animal’s den.

 

I think this is a Baltimore Oriole

I think this is a Baltimore Oriole

The den is quite interesting. I only noticed it on the Beltline (I won’t say where exactly because I wouldn’t want someone finding it to ruin it. It’s not harming anyone along the trail) when I saw an animal zip across the trail. It went by too quickly for me to figure out if it was a small dog, a cat, or a rabbit. 

I wonder who lives here?

I wonder who lives here?

It’s pretty obvious an animal didn’t build and decorate this den by itself. Someone put together the den and set up a bed, food bowls, and water  bowls for the occupant. I only saw it because of the mystery critter zipping by 10 feet in front of me. When I rode past I looked to my side and saw the den. I had to get off my bike and look at both the den and maybe a glimpse at the den’s owner. No luck. But finding it was interesting, especially since I’ve ridden by countless times for years and never noticed it. Hopefully anyone who sees it leaves it be too. Luckily the brush will grow and hide the den very soon.  

My guess is a dog bides his time in this den while the owner is away at work. 

I took these 2 pictures with my Sony 4 meg point and shoot. If I didn’t have that I never would of taken a decent photo with my cell phone. Now, the thing is, the point and shoot took so long to do it’s little song and dance when it’s turned on, that I nearly missed taking the bird photo. I wasn’t even sure if I got the shot of the bird because I couldn’t tell on the camera’s small screen. The bird flew away a moment after I took this photo, but I had to wait until I got home and plugged the memory card into the computer to find out if I actually got a picture of it. If I had my Nikon D40X and the 55-200 mm lens I wouldn’t have this worry, and odds are a much better picture since I would’ve seen what I was doing through the longer lens. I guess I’ll be taking the D40X and the long lens out next time.

Please vote for my photo!!

Yellow Pages is having a photo contest and one of mine is in the running for May! They found it on flickr.com and I’d love to have more than 4 votes (although I love and appreciate each of those votes). So please vote for me!! Here’s the link:  http://www.ypgphoto.com/2009/may/toronto-on-laura-vingada/  

This is what the photo looks like:

I took it last summer. It’s a first bridge at the north end of the Don River Trail near Sunnybrook park. I think the Don River Trail is my favourite bike riding trail in Toronto. There is only 1 street crossing on the 12+ km from North Toronto to the lakeshore of Lake Ontario, it’s paved, has lots of critters, birds, and wildflowers, the Don River, and fairly flat for fast riding. I’m already looking forward to my next ride!

My Christmas Tree

christmas-tree-2008
Go on, laugh.

Feel better?

Story regarding tree starts now:

So my apartment is a small two room plus kitchen, bathroom, and a few closets. Not miniature by any stretch, but it’s a challenge to fit a full sized Christmas tree (whether it’s real or plastic) for the season, as well as to store decorations and the tree (if it’s the fake kind) for the other 11 1/2 months.

I went with my imagination and made this tree out of squares of felt I sewed together in a Christmas tree-like shape. The ornaments I bought at the dollar store with the exception of the pewter wolf and pewter cat. I purchased those at the recent One of A Kind Craft Show and Sale a couple of weeks ago. I’m hoping to add a small and interesting ornament each year, but I have to be careful not to buy anything really delicate like glass balls or fragile wire creations.

I got a kick out of making the Christmas tree. It’s a little out of the ordinary and easy to change each year. Next year I’m going to pick up some LED lights to brighten up the room. I still need a tree topper but haven’t had much luck finding or making something that I really like. I found a few craft books that had instructions on how to make angels out of clothespins and tulle, or stars out of styrofoam and glitter paint. But none of them hit that happy craft spot. I’ll just save that spot on the top of the tree until I see something I love.

As far as gift giving goes I limit it to those nearest and dearest. My best friend is getting some treats and so is my mom. The Sweet Baby Cat and I decided to buy a 32Gb Ipod Touch for each of us when the Apple Store had their Black Friday sale in November. Ahhh! No puffy sweaters! Life is good.

Oh, the Ipod Touch is excellent. I love being able to listen to music, watch videos, have my favourite photos, and my contacts, calendar (oh disorganization, I’ll best you yet), and get to play games, roam the internet, have free apps galore (my current fav is VeganYumYum’s recipe collection – free! Go look!) and not have to pay for the accompanying cell phone costs when compared to the Iphone.

I’m tolerating the snowfall and cold weather with as much good cheer as a summer worshipper possibly can. I don’t like riding in snow and ice so my bike has slowly turned into a glorified coat rack. Geez, I feel guilty typing that out. I’m going to clean up my bike as soon as I sign off. But once Christmas passes I’ll be back to my winter whining. In the meantime I have to stave off the winter fat (and burn off the stubborn fat) by swimming, assaulting the walk/run track and the gym at the nearby communty centre. I’m already salivating at the thought of conquering the hill on Poplar Plains Road this spring!

Only 95 km away from beating last year’s kilometres cycled

And I’m going to ride past 1326 km this week.

That’s only an average of 13.57 km every day from tomorrow until next Saturday. No sweat, I’ve ridden that in week this summer. 

Last year it took me from April until December 2007 to ride 1326 km. That’ll mean I have another 3 month to ride my goal of 2000 km.

I’m hoping this winter will be mild so I can keep riding my bike throughout the winter. 

 

My bike on the Don Rive Trail this summer (with the new REI panniers).

My bike on the Don Rive Trail this summer (with the new REI panniers).

NRG Bars Remix

Yesterday I rode my bike 36.5 km. What a painful ride! It’s definitely not the longest bike ride I’ve ever had, but it was the toughest. And I have no clue why. Okay, maybe I do. Probably the last two lazy ride weeks have not helped my endurance. Most of the rides the last couple of weeks have been short, maybe 8 or 12 km longs. Far short of the 25-30 km a day goal I set for myself a few months ago. The rides have also been on familiar and comfortable terrain — the grocery store, Mount Pleasant Cemetery, the Beltline. None are too challenging and they are all very familiar routes. I know exactly when to push myself and when I can coast. And I have to admit I’ve done a lot more coasting recently. I can’t even blame the hot humid weather because there hasn’t been much of it. Fresh rainy mornings, overcast mild afternoons, and few sunny and hot sticky days. Not stressful, not straining.

Well, enough of that! How am I going to complete a metric century this season with that kind of lacklustre performance? Foot, meet backside. Alright, I’ve given myself a whoomp on the butt. Time to push myself forward on the training path.

To help encourage and feed my enthusiasm on my bike, I’m trying a new energy bar recipe I found in issue 34 of Momentum Magazine. I’ve adjusted it to suit my sweet tooth.

 

NRG Bars Remix

NRG Bars Remix

I used:

4 1/2 cups Kashi Go Lean! Crunch cereal 

3 cups sesame seeds

1 cup medium shred unsweetened coconut

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cups of roasted almonds, lightly crushed

1 heaping tablespoon finely ground coffee beans

1 cup crunchy natural peanut butter

2 cans (600ml) of sweetened condensed milk

Preheat your oven at 300 F

Mix the the dry ingredients except for the coffee beans in a large mixing bowl.

In another mixing bowl carefully combine the peanut butter and 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk, then add the ground coffee beans.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and combine completely. This will be sticky and the sesame seeds have a tendency to fall to the bottom of the bowl so definitely keep stirring from the bottom to the top. Use to spoons if you have to. 

On a 11X17 inch pain place a sheet of parchment paper. Butter or spray the parchment. Then press the mixture onto the pan. It’s very sticky so I spooned the mix first onto the parchment then pressed it down, evening out the mixture on the pan.

Place in 300 F oven and leave it for 20 minutes.

Take out of oven. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. I wrapped mine in clingwrap because that’s what I had in the cupboard. It made 30 generous sized squares. 

The total cost was approximately $15.00. 

These are tasty! Sweet, chewy, with a nutty chocolate burst of flavour. Dang, they are yummy. The next batch I’ll make I’m going to up the coffee beans amount. I’m thinking 2 tablespoons. I’ll also add a scoop of chocolate protein powder. I wonder if I can substitute something for the second can of sweetened condensed milk? More research!

I hope you’ll give these a try. You can use lots of different ingredients in exchange of the coconut, almonds, and chocolate. I’m not a big fan of dried fruit, but the original recipe called for banana chips and raisins. I bet dried apples, cranberries, nutmeg, dried apricots, and even trying flavoured coffee beans like hazlenut would make tasty energy bars. If you are allergic to peanuts try sunflower seed butter if you can. And switch the Kashi Go Lean cereal for granola or toasted oatmeal flakes. It’s an easy recipe to personalize.

I have absolutely no idea what the calorie count is or have any nutritional information about the recipe. It won’t trim your waistline on it’s own, that’s for sure. But I’m hoping it’ll give me that little bit of oomph in the energy department when I am approaching kilometre 70 of my metric century!

Wrecked a favourite tshirt, saw a hawk

I guess that makes today a Good/Bad Day.

So I wrecked my favourite tshirt before I left for my bike ride. It’s my much beloved, much worn Mystery Science Theater 3000 tee I ordered from MST3K years ago. God, it’s such a soft loose comfy tee! It’s a shirt I love wearing whenever I go on a bike ride. Oh sure I have a couple of cycling shirts — space age sweat sucking material in an eye straining pattern. Great stuff. But my heart belongs to this humble tee. A good reason I attribute to the genius that was the tv show Mystery Science Theater 3000. One of the absolute best tv shows ever made! If you’ve never seen it, then get yourself down to your local video store and buy or rent an epsiode. Your life will change. First off, your life will no longer suck. Secondly, you’ll laugh and that is always good for your heart and spirit. Thirdly, there are loads of episodes available and you’ll never be sad again.

 

My poor beloved wrecked tshirt! I cry many tears! I hope I can wash you clean!

My poor beloved wrecked tshirt! I cry many tears! I hope I can wash you clean!

Stupid me! I poured 1/4 bottle of fruit punch Powerade all over it. I sprayed on some laundry de-stain stuff on it. I hope it washes out!

Earlier this week I saw a hawk sitting ever so casually on top of a tombstone in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Just sitting, enjoying the light  breeze. Probably planning to dive bomb a squirrel or a robin once he felt a little hungry. All I had on me to take a photo was my crummy cell phone! Ack! Ack! Lousy planning on my part. 

I went back to the cemetery to ride around the paths for an hour or so before supper. This time I brought by DSLR camera and I kept a look out for another hawk. Here is the one hawk I saw. I only managed to take a single photo because it was frightened off by a car starting up nearby.

 

Look! A hawk! W00T! Cool!

Look! A hawk! W00T! Cool!

As a bonus photo, two weeks ago I rode along the Don River Trail (a-flipping-mazing trail! Asphalt, no traffic, ok some freaky scary bridges. Try it!) and I saw a bunny rabbit. 

 

I saw this bunny 1 km south of the Pottery Road crossing.

I saw this bunny 1 km south of the Pottery Road crossing.

I am looking forward to tomorrow’s ride. I’m not sure exactly where I am riding. I thought of the Beaches but there is a jazz festival on and the place will be packed. I may have to give the Beaches a pass for a couple of days. 

Wish me luck with laundry on Monday!

Riding your bike from Eglinton Avenue West and the Allen Expressway to Davenport and Dupont – the park route

It’s a quiet ride. The trail starts at the end of the Beltline Trail, south of Eglinton West station and meanders through parks and playing fields until it reaches the rear of St. Clair West station at Heath Street. Just think, approximately 30 years ago the city planned on carving up all of the neighbourhoods south of the Allen Expressway into downtown Toronto. We almost lost these homes, parks, and trails to a highway.

My bike near Glen Cedar Road bridge

Glen Cedar Road trestle graffit

Graffiti on the Glen Cedar Road bridge trestle - close up

 

If I am feeling adventurous I will continue to Wells Hill Avenue and St. Clair where the trail continues south east through Sir Winston Churchill Park. This leg is a bit tricky since the trail is narrow, steep and rutted for the first 100 metres or so. Once that part clears the path takes you under Spadina road and the trail changes from gravel to dirt to a weird concrete lattice to sand then back to gravel. The sand and gravel makes the ride soft and sludgy because it likes to grab your wheels and turn you about. The best thing to do is spin in an easy gear and be brave.  

Crazy concrete on trail to Sir Winston Churchill Park

Follow the trail up and then right and then down though the Roycroft Park Marshes. There are sunny hills, park benches, and shady woods right up till the exit at Boulton Drive. 

Boulton Drive has it’s own bike lane and goes down hill all the way to Davenport and Dupont Roads.

A totally fun ride that is hidden in the parks under Toronto’s busiest roads. 

Next trip: The Toronto Islands!

Catching up on my Fish-eye Lomo photos

In my quest to find ever new and exciting bike rides through Toronto, I found a challenging one you can find starting at Moore Street near Mount Pleasant Cemetery. It isn’t long, maybe 2 or 3 km to South Drive and Glen Road in Rosedale. But the trail at the start is steep and rutted, a little too steep and rutted for me and I walked 100 metres or so until the trail evened out. The last half kilometre is a doozy. I walked up a seriously rutted trail that I couldn’t possibly ride up. And I was eaten by mosquitoes. They love me. 

After a simply terrifying ride thorough the Moore Park Ravine, I found the Don Valley Brick Works Park. I’d heard of it, but never visited. 

(Okay, maybe the ride was terrifying only to me. I passed by a number of walkers and runners who looked perfectly at ease as they made their way through the ravine. But, in my defense, I’ve never ridden through the ravine before, and it was the day after the Don River and it’s creek brothers flooded portions of the valley and I’m not used to riding on slick elevated trails with a steep drop further down the valley. And I’m a sissy. There! I wrote it! I was terrified. Simply sick to my stomach as I rode cautiously through the valley. Everyone else was fine. I wasn’t. Sheesh.)

Don Valley Brick Works Park in Toronto

Brickworks building from the top a corrugated metal staircase.

Bit of river, bit of greenery, bit of blue sky.

I like the way the sunshine bounced off the lens. I have to remember that the fish-eye lomo camera takes better pictures the closer you get to the subject. Intrude, my friend, intrude.

After I took these photos, I continued along the trail on my bike. The trail is beautiful! Incredibly it’s smack in the centre of the city and you rarely feel like you are near a major highway. I felt fortunate to see a couple of finches, butterflies, a chipmunk, as well as hear some mysterious scrabbling in the bushes (I didn’t dwell, I sped up a little). 

Along side Bayview Avenue, and in the distance is the Don Valley Parkway

In the distance is the Don Valley Parkway.

I had a few exposures left on my roll and I knew I had to take a picture of a house on Shaftesbury Avenue that has a Tin Man and family sculpture on the attic balcony. Once again the lesson learned is get as close as you can to your subject with your fish-eye lomo camera. I may need to scratch that sentence on the back of my camera…

Tin Man family on balcony.

And a couple of shots of wildflowers growing on the side of the road:

Now I have to put calamine lotion on my bug bites and eat supper. I am starving! 

 

Training continues…

Swimming. What a wonderful activity! I love it. I missed it. I went for my second swim today. I spent a half hour in the “slow lane” trying out the front crawl, backstroke, and kicking while hanging on to the float board. I didn’t keep count of the number of times I swam up and down the lane, but I did manage 34 minutes. Not bad for a noobie!

I borrowed a book at the library about swim drills. Youtube has some swim drill videos too. I need to improve my swimming since it’s been so long. I am not used to keeping my head in the water and then remembering to come up for air while coordinating my arms to stroke forward. If I have to I will sign up for lessons!

What’s even better is my SBC has decided he wants to go swimming with me. Yeah, company! What would be a treat is if our building would repair the pool on the roof. Until the weather warms up considerably, it’s a cold damp walk from the community centre to our home.

Our cycling team blog is slowly slowly taking shape. I took photos of almost all of the team members this weekend, and signed us up as “authors” to post news and pictures. Hopefully, as the weather gets better, we’ll have more news and photos to share. And I’m hoping to take some training videos of us!

Today’s Training

I swam for the first time in 18 years, and you know that saying that you never forget how to swim? Well, I remembered most of it. Luckily I can still doggy paddle like a four year. Even luckier I can still tread water like the 1986 Camp Swim Treading Champion that I once was. One thing is definite, I hate water going up my nose just as much. This time I wore ear plugs to help turning my head into a bucket. I also wore a silicone swim cap. It didn’t keep my hair dry but it does have sharks screen printed on both sides. That has to count for something.

The pool is near my house and has an active senior’s community. I was the youngest woman in the changerooms by a clear 4 decades since I arrived at the start of the senior’s pool fitness hour. They looked like they had fun doing low impact water aerobics in the shallow end. I stuck to the deep end and reminded myself how the front crawl works, and the backstroke is relaxing. Why is everyone more comfortable with the backstroke? Swimming backwards isn’t particularly easy, and then I worry that I’ll smack my head into the wall when I get to the end of the lane. I spent a total of 40 minutes swimming and I am definitely going to swim each morning five days a week from now on.

At the gym I tried out the elliptical. I need a change from the stationary bikes because it is oh so boring as well the bikes aren’t comfortable for long periods of time. I can ride for 50 minutes max before my backside is screaming with pain. I gave the elliptical a ten minute whirl and I didn’t like it at all. It felt like running in place without gravity. I thought I was going to fly off of it and I had to regulate my speed to stay standing. Monday it’s back to the dreaded stationary bike. I’m starting a new routine: Every other day fast intervals, the other days resistance training on the bike. I’m limiting the session to 30 minutes, maximum of 40 to stave off boredom and butt pain.

I managed 60 squats with 50 lbs. Not bad. I’m aiming for 100 squats and then throw on another 10 lbs, starting back at 60 squats and build up to 100 again before adding an extra 10 lbs. Repeat until I can no longer stand it.

The rest was upper body. Monday it will be lower body, switching to upper on Tuesday. I increased the weight on the chest press machine and the lat pulldown, as well as the weird back muscle machine whose name I can never recall. On Monday I’m increasing the hip abductor and adductor to 120 lbs from 110, and the hamstring thingy to 90 lbs. Both will be a count of 60.

I’m saving Saturday and Sunday for recovery, but on tired out days I’ll take it easy and only do swim and bike.

That’s the plan anyway!