Archive for the Uncategorized Category

New Years Eve in Edmonton

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 1, 2013 by JonH

I saw 2012 out with a lot of walking. I made my way to Churchill Square for a brief visit. I didn’t see any bands, but there was a cool looking stage set up, and loads of kids running amok around some lights that were vaguely reminiscent of Miami Vice.

City Hall as seen from Churchill Square

City Hall as seen from Churchill Square

Great lights, no band. At least not while I was there.

Great lights, no band. At least not while I was there.

Feral children running around the Miami Vice light show.

Feral children running around the Miami Vice light show.

After a brief hang with the locals, I meandered up 124 street for a stroll. Although activity on the street itself would indicate evidence to the contrary, it’s nice to see 124 starting to show signs of life: three of the restaurants along the strip between 107 ave and 108 ave were buzzing with activity.

A few vehicles, but not a lot of pedestrians on 124 street

A few vehicles, but not a lot of pedestrians on 124 street

The best place to be, however, was back home where the Aug was sleeping soundly with his mom.

A couple of houses over, they really get into the spirit.

A couple of houses over, they really get into the spirit.

Happy New Year!

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What a Way to Spend a Weekend . . .

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 6, 2011 by JonH

As many of you that know me are aware, I’m not as avid a cyclist as the lads from Bikeridr; however, I sure do enjoy throwing on my helmet and going for a chew. That said, at least once a year I try and up the ante somewhat by riding out to Pigeon Lake. The ride is just over one hundred kilometres and despite the number of times I’ve done it it always remains challenging.

This year, along with my buddy Matt Jaffray, I tried something a little more challenging:

The Alberta Ride to Conquer Cancer took place on June 25 and 26. Matt and I, along with 2280 other cyclists, rode south starting from Spruce Meadows in Calgary for one hundred kilometres, camped in a deluxe camp ground (kudos to the awesome volunteers!) and then rode back the following day.

We rode til our butts got numb, our knees throbbed, and in some cases, our bikes broke. Not everyone made it the distance but everyone had heart. In the end, thanks to all of you who supported the riders, we raised 8.6 million clams!

I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a weekend . . .

(The song that plays over the video is by Neil MacDonald. Do yourself a favour and check him out. He rocks. I roll. Get it? On a bike you roll . . .)

Fundraising for Cancer Research on June 25 and 26

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 10, 2011 by JonH

For those of you following the blog hopefully you’ve had the chance to read about my experiences with long distance bike rides.

Well, this June I thought I’d ramp things up considerably and take part in the Ride to Conquer Cancer. This two day ride leaves from Calgary on June 25 and meanders the highways and biways of Alberta’s foothills, and into the Rocky Mountains. Day one ends with camping and entertainment, and, if good fortune smiles upon my partner and me, a shower. After what I think will be a relaxing evening under the stars we’ll be back on our bikes for day two. The ride is around 200 kilometres. This will easily be the longest ride I’ve ever taken part in. I’m feeling pretty good about it.

I have to admit I don’t know much else about the ride. I’ve glossed over important things like where the ride ends, whether or not we need to pack tents, and what we’ll need in terms of support (i.e. what happens if I pop a tire, that sort of thing), but all of that pales in comparison to the excitement I’m feeling over the prospects of undertaking this ride. It’s a personal challenge, but more importantly I feel it’s a small gesture as a means to remember the people in my life and the lives of friends and family that have lost loved ones to cancer.

If you would like to help me and my riding partner, Matt Jaffray reach our fundraising goals, or if you just want more information, please visit my Ride to Conquer Cancer web page.

Thanks and peas out!

Follow up on the Arena Discussion

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 13, 2011 by JonH

The City of Edmonton recently released a document outlining the results of a survey that had been conducted gauging the overall interest Edmontonians have for the proposed arena district.

The document seems to present a fairly unbiased summary. Read it here.

Some interesting discussion pertaining to the document can be found on the hockey site, Hockey’s Future. Read some of that discussion here.

For a refresher on what our thoughts on the arena project are, please refer to the article posted on our website.

What are your thoughts?

Riding to Pigeon Lake: A Masochist’s Journey

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 2, 2010 by JonH

Today (August 1, 2010) marks the one year anniversary of what I thought was going to be my last ride out to Pigeon Lake for at least a 12 month period before making my first trip of 2010 sometime this month with my friend Neil.

But damn my impulsive nature, this wasn’t going to be the case.

One month ago, on July 1, 2010 (Canada Day), I decided on a whim to head out on my fourth ride to Pigeon Lake in the past three years. This marks the first time I’ve done it alone since the week before my wedding. My first successful solo trip, as well as my first run with my buddy, Sheldon, is recounted on his bikeridr blog.

In that article I said that Sheldon and I made the trip in just over six hours. Well, I must have been delusional when I said that because no matter how hard I try I just can’t seem to break the seven-hour mark.

Last year on August 1, my third ride out (second with Sheldon), I did manage to chew some time off, but it was still slower than I’d expected. We left at 8:18 am, arrived in Devon at 10:17, meandered into Calmar at 11:28, and hit Thorsby at 1:12. Next up was the entrance to the monkey humps (Highway 616) at 2:06 after which we arrived at the cabin at 3:37. When all was said and done we took seven hours and nineteen minutes to bike almost 110 kilometres.

Considering I’d been biking to and from work every day, I thought I would be in better shape to trim some major time off our previous year’s record, but alas, the difference was minor. In my estimation this was due to a number of factors, not the least of which was the oppressive heat—close to 35 degrees. The blazing sun seemed to work in conjunction with my genetically inherited chicken legs; and my knees, which resemble those of an underdeveloped ten-year-old child, quickly made me aware of their concern with having to provide the pivot and primary thrust for my 220-pound-frame. However, what I did not expect was the new and interesting pain that manifested itself further south of my otherwise poultry like extremities.

At about the halfway point (Thorsby Esso) a curious sensation on the balls of my feet began to present itself. This sensation, which at first felt like someone sticking a hot drill into the underside of my foot, soon became even more intense with each pedal stroke. It’s what I imagine having the bones of each of my feet being pulled apart would feel like. Not pleasant, to say the least. However, that said, I’ve been told that my tolerance for pain is low. (As further evidence to this I’ll tell you about my kidney stone some time.)

After a short break, and many attempts to quell the thoroughly insistent burning sensation in each of my feet, we set off for our next objective: the monkey humps. I’m not sure where the name came from, but you can take your mind out of the gutter; suffice to say that it’s a series of hills that all seem to have a general upwards trend.

The monkey humps are arguably the most grueling part of the ride. The road sign says Pigeon Lake Provincial Park is 21 km away, but they’re not easy kilometers. As mentioned, the orientation seems to be upwards, and my knees and butt are sore.

We finally turn left onto 771, and we’re onto the last leg of the trip. Up a little grind and then a good stretch of downhill road where we pick up speed and let our legs rest as gravity takes over. As we begin to go around a bend we can now see Pigeon Lake to our left. We cross over a little bridge and then around another bend with beautiful trees on either side; up past Sunset Harbour we ride hard until we hit the T-intersection. This is where elation begins to set in. We pedal hard up a short incline and at the top you can see a road sign indicating a curve to the right. This is the home stretch, and it’s all virtually downhill from here until the cabin. At this point the prospects of fulfilling my goal of riding back to Edmonton are the furthest thing from my mind.

This brings me back to July 1, 2010. My first solo ride in a while.

And for the sake of comparing this year’s time with last year’s, here they are at various checkpoints:

I left at 8:18 am (three minutes later than last year), arrived in Devon at 10:08 (nine minutes earlier), met and had lunch with my wife Lisa, and my son Justis at the Jim Nelson Memorial Trout Pond (five or six kilometres Northeast of Calmar. Where, incidentally, I managed to choke back half a sandwich, 500 mls of Gatorade, a banana, and a muffin/cupcake in seven minutes, all the while describing my ride up to that point to my rapt audience). I then ripped into Calmar at 11:12 (16 minutes earlier), maintained a killer pace and hit the Thorsby Esso at 12:21 (a full 51 minutes earlier than last year!) I was on a role and feeling pretty good, so I took a 22 minute break. Next up was the entrance to the monkey humps (Highway 616) , but I neglected to mark my time down. I finally arrived at the cabin at 3:24. This was only 13 minutes ahead of last year’s time . . .

However, even though I still struggled with very sore knees and feet, I felt stronger this time than during any other ride. This could have something to do with the fact that I’m down to a trim 210 pounds (well maybe not trim, but getting more manageable). And even though I was unable (or, more accurately, unwilling) to ride back to Edmonton, I’m still looking forward to doing the ride again one more time this summer. Maybe this time I’ll do it when I when I say I’m going to it and I’ll have some company.

Next time out I’ll continue to post my times, and if there are any things in particular that you want to know about the ride, drop me a line.

Now that I’m the big four oh

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 4, 2010 by JonH

Warning: not for the easily squeamed.

Now that I’m forty I thought I should start taking better care of myself by trying to a be a bit “sportier.” Besides, I’ve got my annual bike ride to Pigeon Lake this year with my friend Sheldon to consider, and I want to be able to keep up with him . . . for once.

So yesterday, after spending about an hour in the gym, I went for my first bike ride of the year. Even though the streets were a bit slippery, it was a nice long ride and a lot of fun.

After getting home I jumped into bed and dozed off for a night of blissful reprieve. I woke up after my wife had gone to work, poured myself a cup of coffee, checked my email, and found this:

Hello sleeping beauty! Could you do me one big favour….toss all the bedding in the wash for me?? I got a sniff of your pit juice on my pillow (which were probably yours the night before) as I was dreaming of buttercups and unicorns.

I guess I forgot one thing: underneath all of those layers of clothing you still sweat.

Groundhog Day

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 2, 2010 by JonH

Most of you know the significance of February 2. For those that don’t it’s called Groundhog Day. This day is very important to a great number of people, most notably to my brother-in-law, for some strange reason.

Groundhog Day is a North American custom that has its roots in European culture whereby large masses of people congregate around a hole in the ground allegedly occupied by groundhogs named either Balzac Billy (the Prairie Prognosticator) here in Alberta, or Buckeye Chuck in Ohio, or Wiarton Willie in Ontario, or the most famous groundhog of all, Punxsutawney Phil (used to be Pete, but he died).

What they’re waiting to see is whether or not these groundhogs will see their shadow.

It works like this: when said rodent emerges from its hole and fails to see its shadow, it will leave thus signifying that winter will end in six weeks. However, should the groundhog see its shadow, it will retreat back into its burrow thereby signifying six more weeks of winter.

I don’t have time to get into the science, but suffice it to say that the action of the groundhog is absolutely pivotal in determining whether or not we will have more or less winter.

But not all is fun and games. Some areas of our beautiful continent are conspicuously low on groundhogs, so what are the citizens that want to gather around a hole to watch a rodent to do?  Well, thanks to the quick thinking of then-Governor Sarah Palin and the rest of the Alaskan Legislature, rather than call off celebrations because they didn’t have groundhogs, they passed a bill in 2009 officially changing the name from Groundhog Day to Marmot Day.

They have plenty of those. (They look kind of lazy, though . . .)

Whew, crisis averted!

Another great Groundhog Day tradition for many North American families has been to gather the clan around the tube to watch the classic movie Groundhog Day staring Bill Murray as the smug Phil Connors, the Pittsburgh weatherman that gets stuck doing an assignment he’d rather not be doing. He somehow finds himself reliving the same day over and over again until he finally learns to become a better man.

And should anyone think I’m being ironic when I use the term ‘classic’ to describe this movie, know this: in 2006, the Library of Congress added Groundhog Day to its film preservation list honouring films which are deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

So there. Have a great Groundhog Day.