Savage Pete

When Vancouver hosted the Olympics, students at UBC got a two week reading break since the school arena was hosting some of the hockey. Many students took advantage of the double long break to head off on adventures. Myself and three friends bought an old car for $500 and took off for Mexico. As climbers, we had to head pretty far south to escape the February cold.

The car had a few things wrong off the bat, the transmission was sticky in 2nd and reverse, and the muffler had a little hole.

“Peter” quickly became his name as we switched off driving shifts through Washington and Oregon. Night shifts meant an endless marathon of Savage LoveCast’s, keeping the driver awake. Between this constant background working it’s way into our dreams, and the ever increasing roar of the car as the muffler rusted away more and more, “Peter” soon earned the monicer “Savage Peter”.

At some point on the 54 hour drive, probably after turning east towards Texas, we couldn’t get it to reverse out of a parking stall, and had to push him out in neutral. After that we just never put him in a position that needed backing up. 2nd also pretty much gave up, or at least I gave up on 2nd and would jump from 1st to 3rd at 10 km an hour.

Potrero Chico outside of small town Hidalgo near Monterey was incredible climbing and is highly suggested to anyone climbing in Mexico. So is Red Rocks, Nevada outside of Las Vegas where we stopped for a few days on the way back, but weren’t able to climb much due to rain. This picture of Pete is from after a slow morning unable to climb:

Yes, those racing stripes are duct tape.

Pete got us back to Canada no problem, despite border police and homeland security searching him three times, and took us on a few other small adventures in the weeks after. He helped me move apartments in Vancouver too actually, which was fortunate timing to actually own a car.

Ultimately we sold Pete… for $500. The guy even liked the racing stripes.

In a recent twist, one of my fellow adventurers, Dan, found out a friend of his knew the fellow who had bought Pete, and learned the story of his demise. Apparently after two years, muffler falling right off, and several more trips including one to San Francisco and back, the transmission finally gave up.

As Dan put it: “When the wrecker came to collect him, it took a half hour for him – this a man who collects junked cars for a living – to get it in reverse and on to the truck. I guess he just didn’t want to go.”

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Galloping Goose!

As a child, word of the Galloping Goose evoked magical pictures in my mind. Awkward aviary ambling ardently along with flightless wings flapping foolishly. (I worked on that sentence a bit.)

Truly though, I’d imagine it was named for a most ridiculous of sights, a goose literally galloping along, likely in sight of the trail builders, who would name it after completion. That the 55 km pedestrian path from downtown Victoria out past Sooke, is named for the train that once linked the south island, was utterly disappointing to me. Trains to me were not as interesting as animals behaving strangely.

Despite my childhood disenchantment, the fact that the path was once built and graded for train use, makes it the perfect bike path for long non-strenuous rides. The hills are so gradual that I usually don’t notice them until I turn around and find the return trip much faster.

I did the same 15 km out and back twice this weekend, and surprised myself with how thoroughly I enjoyed all three of the repetitions of the same ground. A two day weekend trip to cover the whole trail is in order in the very near future!

Many of the best lakes in the south island are accessible by the trail, which also borders a few ridges with incredible views, and the trees have been untouched for so long, that while I doubt they are old growth, they’re some of the biggest you’ll see around Victoria.

I think my first instincts were right, the Goose does evoke magical pictures. You can’t get much better than this for a fully self-propelled day trip while living in a city!

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Practice makes perfect

I’ve developed a new habit. It’s not so much new as it is a variation on the old. It’s spending excessive time on the internet. Except NOW instead of re-reading webcomic archives and watching funny youtube videos, I practice math and learn geography.

The internet is awesome.

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I’m just starting to learn about privilege in a social justice class, . I found this article recently called “The Distress of the Privileged.” It is written more so to minoritized groups, but reading it helped me understand my privilege and the way I should and should not express it… Especially in cases where I feel privileged distress despite desiring social justice.

I am a privileged person with respect to most societal categories: white, cis-gendered, able-bodied, rich compared to the world, middle-class in Canada, and while female, I am female in a part of the world where that fact does not minoritize me as significantly as it would in many other places.

Given this incredible degree of privilege, I am comfortable the majority of the time, and more importantly it is incredibly easy to find a space in which I feel comfortable. This is due to the fact that having privilege implies that the social group I belong to is valued more highly by society than other social groups in that category.

As a person who claims to be for social justice, this is incredibly difficult to accept, and it’s a struggle to know how to react in the face of my own positionality (meaning personal privilege or minoritization). “Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education” talks about just this. To be “for” social justice requires constant self-reflection about one’s own positionality in social groups, in addition to strategic action that stems from that self-awareness to challenge social injustice.

This self-reflection must be an ongoing lifelong process, but it is only useful when used to enact change. Conversely, social change is only effective and appropriate with an understanding, acceptance, and use of one’s own positionality.

I highly recommend getting your hands on this book (by Ozlem Sensoy and Robin Diangelo) and reading at least the preface. We also read the prologue, first chapter, and appendix which were equally fascinating.

Anyone interested in social justice, I also recommend watching this short video “Stop the Clash of Civilizations“.

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Dreams Dashed!

So the one run I’ve done so far for this triathlon training caused knee twinges by the end of 20 minutes (I did a walk/run at a 1:1 ratio). I also started feeling the odd twinge while cycling to or from school (12 minutes).

I had a great meeting with a physiotherapist, who is trying a bunch of things to get rid of the knee pain, starting with LOTS of stretching this week, including using a foam roller to work out the deep tissue knots throughout my legs. Did not know how tight my calves, hamstrings, and lateral quad were until I used this thing. Oh. My. God. There’s a spot in my left calf that is like a giant knot you’d get on your back or in your shoulders… SO much pain rolling it out!!

Anyways, the 6 minutes of leg stretches twice daily plus the roller should help stop all the muscles from pulling my knee cap over much in various directions.

The upshot of this whole thing though is that I shouldn’t be starting new activities (running/swimming) until I’m back to 100% comfort with my current activity (cycling), so triathlon plans are on hold.

Who’s up for  a bike trip?

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I suppose I shouldn’t put quotes around the word, since I’m pretty sure I managed to do a reasonable facsimile of backstroke and breaststroke. Considering that for most of the time I was attempting front crawl though…

Coordinating my arms and legs didn’t work at all, so I ended up kicking fast and then slowly moving my arms while I focused on decent breathing. Didn’t do the whole length for most of it either, just the shallow part, because swimming over the deep part made me panic. Going to be a struggle swimming in open water for triathlon!

I kept stopping after every length too, mainly to catch my breath, so it was a surprise to realize I’d been at it for 30 mins, and feel how tired I was while changing. Turns out I did a workout amidst all that frustration! Cool.

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I have not exercised since mid-June.

My five-week live-in job as staff on the Laval University campus of Shad Valley didn’t present many opportunities for free time, let alone exercise, and my two days off were spent in blissful uninterrupted slumber.

Got home and jumped on my bike. Ecstasy! I couldn’t stop giggling from sheer joy… for about 5 minutes, which is when I noticed my lack of ability to brake.

Bleeding and replacing the mineral oil of one-year-old brakes is simple, but we didn’t own the proper wrench and there was no time to procure it before my parents left for their canoe-venture. Bike shop took ages to get around to the 15 min procedure, and the upshot is that when I jumped on my bike at last two days ago, it had been 9 weeks since I’d last properly ridden it.

There’s a beautiful 33km trail from downtown Victoria to the ferry terminal that follows an old train route, and goes through giant forests, marshy lakes, some pasture land, and overall borders the ocean most of the way. I got on the trail around the 7km marker after a 15 min ride from home, laden with two panniers and a bag of climbing gear bungee’d on the back. Google estimated a 2 hour ride, so I gave myself 3 considering my lack of fitness and luggage.

In the end, despite losing the trail through Sidney, Google was right. Two hours from closing the garage to pulling out my wallet at the toll booth. And I spent most of it grinning like a maniac! More biking required in my life.

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