I’ve been at the cottage a month today. 

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I’ve been at the cottage a month today.

Alone without TV, or the internet.

Time has passed quickly. I’m never bored or lonely. There is always something to do. Cycle. Shop. Cook. Eat. Read. Cut the grass. Vacuum the floors. Write. Text the kids.

I have accomplished a lot. I found necessary services easily. A gym nearby that I never knew existed. A hair cutter that does a better job than the one at home. A group of like minded cyclists who do a weekly group ride. A contractor to install double-paned windows. A local shop where I could purchase a light touring kayak I have wanted for years. An arborist to trim back a 50 foot blue spruce. A contractor to install a gas fireplace. And, a seamstress to make curtains for the bedroom windows.

I’ve read 5 books. eBooks that I could find, and pay for easily. Books from a summer reading list provided by a gym colleague I respect. Books that have given me insight into South African apartheid, the Haiti earthquake, cycling around the world on a “safety”, West Coast indigenous culture, and a “who-done-it” set in northern Ontario cottage country. And, I listen to CBC Radio One throughout the day. It’s commercial-free, informative, and an entertaining glimpse into Canadian culture.

I cycle everyday. Well, everyday it doesn’t rain. There is always wind. A north westerly wind ranging from 10-30 kph. A hurting wind that tests my metal. No matter which direction I head out, I always find the wind. If not on the way out, on the way back. I ride on-the-drops most of the time. There may not be hills, but there is wind.

I eat well. Homemade energy gels for cycling made with dates, raisins, lemon and lime juice, peanut butter, and a pinch of salt. Homemade post-ride smoothies made with berries, banana, more peanut butter, and almond milk. Frittata. Quinoa salads. Cold pasta and vegetable salads. Imaginative stir fry with rice. Wraps with tofu, rice, vegetables, and baby spinach. And, veggie burgers when I want a quick, easy meal.

This is the first year I have been here in the spring to witness the area awaken. The leaves form and blossom on the trees. The Canada Geese parading by with their young in tow. Mosquitos. Lots of them. This has been an unusually wet spring, perfect breeding ground for the little pests. Higher than usual water levels, the result of unusual rainfall. Farmers ploughing and sowing their fields. Weekenders arriving to open up their cottages, and launch their boats for the season. And birds. Geese, Osprey. Herons. Loons. Owls. Robins, And, a plethora of wetland birds I’m unable to name. All harmonizing to the tune that is spring.

I’ve frequently seen the hot, humid summer days. And, the cooler, more colourful fall ones. But I have seldom witness spring here.

It’s the change of seasons that I miss on the West Coast.

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Cycling selfieitis… 🤔

Did you know that in 2013, Oxford Dictionaries declared the word selfie as The International Word of the Year, describing it as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”?

Of course you did.

Well, selfies have been around for a long time, long before smartphones, and I have always been fascinated with them. They tell a different, more intimate story. And, now that they can be shared more easily, they have become an indispensable part of our lives.

Selfies are an art form. If you doubt this, watch this video.

They empower the artist to chose what, when, and where to shoot. I’m not suggesting my selfies are art. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But my smartphone empowers me to shoot frequently. That’s the difference. It’s ubiquitous. Always with me. Even when I’m on the bikes. And, surprisingly, it boasts a lot of technology, comparable to my old SLRs that are collecting dust in the cupboard. Features that can result in good, even excellent, photographs.

I used to think selfies were an age thing. Something only millennials did. Narcissistic in a way.  The American Psychiatric Association even consider taking selfies is a mental disorder.

The disorder is called selfitis, and is defined as the obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem, and to fill a gap in intimacy.

  • Borderline selfitis : Taking photos of one’s self at least three times a day but not posting it on social media
  • Acute selfitis: Taking photos of one’s self at least three times a day and posting each of the photos on social media
  • Chronic selfitis: Uncontrollable urge to take photos of one’s self round the clock and posting the photos on social media more than six times a day.

Really?

I don’t fall into any of these categories. That’s a good thing. Right? I only take selfies when cycling, and seldom share them in any way, except perhaps on this post.

Let’s face it. Selfies, as we know them, are a recent phenomenon. People of all ages, sexes, religions, and political stripes take them. It seems, at least to me, there is a universal need to document, and as we grow older, validate our lives. We always have. The prehistoric cave drawings are no different than the digital images of today, a record of life at the time.

I take selfies when cycling. Not while moving, although I suppose I could do that as well. No, I take them when stopped, perhaps at the summit of a climb, during bathroom breaks, or when relaxing afterward. Why do I do this? And, why don’t I take them at other times? Well, I’m a cyclist. And, I suppose that’s how I think of myself, and want to be remembered.

These images picture me enjoying rides.

I have included a random collection of selfies taken over the past several years. They are always a head shot, sometimes with an interesting backdrop, always with natural lighting. I don’t take myself too seriously, and usually have a smile on my face, even during a 20 km climb up one of the local mountains in the rain.

That’s what cycling does. It puts a smile on my face 😀

Oh yeah. Did you notice that I cycle all year in the cold, rain, and hot sun 👏

Do you make selfies a part of your rides 🤔

A tribute to Chas …

I first built Chas over 30 years ago.

At the time, I took a series of B&W photographs featuring the Cinelli and Campagnolo parts that adorned the British racing green frame. I still have these photographs, and several are hanging on the walls at the cottage and my den at home.

Its time to pay tribute to Chas once again. He is more than a bicycle. He is an old friend. A training partner. A coach. And, in ways, a mentor. He has taught me more about cycling than I ever imagined possible. We grew together from tourist, commuter, and racer. And, together we travelled throughout parts of Canada, England and the US.

This summer I took Chas to the cottage, back to the roads where we first began cycling together. We have been a team for a long time, and we perform better today than we ever have. Faster. More confident. More reliable. And, we look better. Like an experienced team.

I took a lot of pictures of Chas during our rides on the roads we have enjoyed together for 3 decades. He has a new look. A new drive train. New brakes. New stem and bars. New seat post and saddle. Only his frame is original. He’s like new. Even better.

Here are several of my favourite images. I’m going to enlarge one and hang it on my wall.

What do you think?

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Chas2

Chas3

Chas4

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