Taken for a Ride?

Paul Stevens

Article No. 16 June 7, 2016

Carpe Diem (but in a relaxed sort of way)

With a continuance of brilliant weather, getting out on the bike has been nothing short of delightful.  Sunny skies, modest winds and warm temperatures add up to a truly great environment to hit the road.

I have previously mentioned that one of the local bike shops serves as a meeting place for a Wednesday evening ride.  The initial gathering a few weeks ago saw about 50 riders saddle up for the season opener. Aside from providing an excuse to get out for an evening ride, the purpose of the Wednesday ride is to get the participants up to a decent comfort level to handle the upcoming Gran Fondo ride scheduled for July 31st.  This ride will offer participants the option of doing 50, 100 or 150 km. 

Last Wednesday attracted about 70 riders so this was a nice bump up from the initial ride.  I missed a couple of rides in between as I was previously committed to some work-related events.  With that many riders, the organizers were able to offer participants a variety of speeds that they could try to maintain. At the upper end was a group that would push 30-32 km/hr, with other groups descending from there. For newbies, there was a relaxed pace of 15 -19 km/hr and while that is a very modest pace, it was great to see the participants actually make the effort to get on a bike.  Without appearing to be judgemental, several in this group were more than a few years removed from getting any meaningful level of exercise. Good on them then for getting out there. 

The Manditos Ride

I and my fellow Manditos selected the second grouping which targeted a speed of 27-29 km/hr.  That doesn’t sound like much but it does provide a good cardio workout, enhanced by the duration of the ride which would take about 75 minutes.  By the end of the ride, I was sufficiently tired without being gassed.  I don’t think I would have been able to step it up to the top group for the duration of the ride and that doesn’t bother me in the least.  I maintain that I was built for speed and I’ll let the longer distance athletes have their day.  Even as a young man, I was never a distance runner, competitive up to about 800m and decent in the sprints. 

There is something magical about those who can crank it out mile after mile and make it look they are taking a walk in the park. I’m most certainly not in that category and I probably just don’t have the genetic make-up that would allow me to do that no matter how much I trained.  Do what you can with what you have and enjoy it.  I can live with that.


Arriving back at the homestead at a decent hour, there was plenty of time to have a light dinner and kick back and watch some baseball on the TV.  Note that I said a light dinner as eating heavily later in the day has been shown to hamper your sleeping as blood supply is rushing to the gut to help your digestion instead of the regular places it needs to go to give you a restful sleep.  I certainly could have eaten more but I have experienced the disruption to my sleeping pattern by overindulging so I try to back off despite the obvious temptation.  I can always fill up at breakfast the next day and so I did.

Fundraising BBQ for Local Snoezelen Room

The following night, the Manditos were front and centre for a neighbourhood fundraising BBQ held at the home of one of the long standing members of the group.  This was a ‘sausage party’, meaning that it was guys only.  About 20 of us headed out for a casual ride with non-riders meeting up afterward at the host home.  The purpose of the BBQ was to raise funds for a ‘Snoezelen Room’ at a local high school. 

These are specially equipped therapy rooms for those with autism and other developmental challenges including dementia and brain injuries.  The rooms consist of providing a soothing yet stimulating environment with music, lighting, colours, scents, etc..  The concept was developed in the Netherlands in the 1970s and there are now more than 1200 such rooms worldwide.  The name Snoezelen is derived from the Dutch words ‘snuffelen’ meaning ‘to seek out and explore’ and ‘doezelen’ meaning to doze, to snooze.  A fun evening with my fellow sausages and we raised about $700 – not bad for a night’s work.

Weekly Ride

Our Weekly Ride and a Dislike of Clowns

On Saturday morning, the Manditos met up for our weekly ride on what was another near perfect day.  We stopped for breakfast at a local golf club and unlike the previous week, there were a couple of other cycling groups strapping on the feed bag as well so we were not the only sweaty diners.  Sitting on an outdoor patio under a sunny sky and overlooking the golf course made for a very civilized setting. 

You would think that in such an environment, the conversation would have reflected the ambiance and spirit of the moment.  So what did we end up discussing?  Well, it turns out one of our Manditos has a total dislike if not fear of clowns.  This is a grown man we’re talking about here so the conversation became rather energized.

“Is it the big red nose?”

“How about the face paint?”

“What about the skinny balloons that get shaped into all manner of things?” 

Negative to all of those. Just an abject dislike of clowns.  We could have extended this line of discussion but there was no psychiatrist’s couch at hand and most of us had the rest of the day to attend to.  On our way boys.  We’ll bring Mr. Freud along next time.

 Annual Sarnia Artist’s Walk

After a clean-up at home, my wife and I walked to Sarnia’s downtown where the main street was blocked off to accommodate the annual “Artist’s Walk”.  This is a showing for the talents of local craftspeople, musicians, and artisans along with purveyors of local cuisine, an opportunity that I could not allow to pass untested. A strong turnout of townspeople made for a very vibrant street and it was wonderful to see some of the artistic and creative skills of our neighbours. Me?  I have no such skills so I’ll have to be content with just being an observer.

All in all, it was a good week of fun and meeting new people.  I’ll miss this week’s Wednesday ride due to another commitment but I was invited via one of my hockey buddies I met this past winter to join with another, albeit smaller group that meets on Thursday nights.  Always nice to have a back-up.  I have come to enjoy riding with a group as opposed to cycling on my own as the pace is pushed beyond what I would do on a solo ride and there is always the opportunity to engage in friendly conversation while peddling along.

The summer is shaping up nicely with a combination of cycling and social events and I am looking forward to every one of them. 

Now, if we can only figure out how to control the weather…

Your friend, Paul.

And remember – Carpe Diem (but in a relaxed sort of way)!

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