Ski Binge on Easter Weekend

Boy, am I sore! I’ve been very lazy this Winter season; in regards to skiing. I don’t ski nearly as much as I’d like to (mainly because I’m lazy, but also because I picked up another winter sport). And as a consequence, I feel that my level has sort of plateaued over the last couple of seasons. Anyways; to redeem myself, I figured I’d go skiing everyday during the four-day super long Easter weekend. Actually, I was planning to go a on a little motorcycle tour, with Spring weather and all. However… the forecast changed to RAIN!

Anyways, to close-off the ski season, I decided to ski over the four days, starting with Grouse, then Whistler, followed by Baker, and to finish off with Cypress. Grouse & Cypress are the local mountains, where I hold a season pass in the former. And, I sometimes go once or twice to Cypress during the season, which hasn’t happened this year, yet. Whistler and Baker are both around 135km drive, with the later being south of the border.

Anyways, it turned out that Baker and Cypress had their last day of the season on Sunday. So, I should’ve changed my plans a bit, but I didn’t bother, especially that some friends happened to be at Whistler on Saturday, and I figured meh… I’ll rest on Monday.

Grouse was very meh! Spring is here, and it shows. The runs weren’t great due to the warm weather. Whistler on Saturday turned out to be great though! It had snowed the previous night, with some flurries when I was there in the morning. Only for the skies to clear up gradually in the afternoon. I skied in the morning on Whistler, then moved to Blackcomb, to connect with friends. Loads of snow, which actually caused me some grief! My DIN settings haven’t been adjusted over the last few years, to keep up with my progress. Thus, my boots were popping off at the very onset of turning in some heavy snow, while over on the Blackcomb Glacier Bowl. We tried to tighten the bindings, but didn’t have the tools, and my coworker Ken, tried with no luck with some household keys. Ken suggested that I’d have to take the run going side to side, and to keep my weight on my heals. It worked, but I was starting to have major cramps in my legs, and lower back. I had been skiing since the morning, and having struggled with my boots popping off several times, and trying to put them back, with some serious wind, on steep runs had taken a toll me. I was beat! I had to make a stop every minute or so to catch my breath, and to allow my cramps to settle. Anyways, I finally made it to the bottom. I’m grateful for Ken and his wife Lisa that stuck around with me, and made sure I made it all the way to the bottom. As for you Blackcomb Glacier Bowl; we have unfinished business! I had decided to call it a day after that!

Next day (Day #3), I headed to Mount Baker. I decided to sleep a few more hours in the morning, as I was sore from the previous day at Whistler. The first thing I did when I got to Baker was getting my bindings tested and readjusted, then off on to the slopes. Boy, do the bindings feel great now. The runs were great. I didn’t stay for long though. After 3 hours of skiing, I started to feel the burn in my legs. Having had lots of fun skiing over the last 3 days, I decided to call it a day, and to call it a season. Both Whistler and Baker where relatively empty.  I suppose it’s the end of season. Though, Blackcomb is still open for another month or so, Baker is closing for the season, both resorts have tons of snow! As for the local mountains, Cypress had its last weekend, and Grouse should probably follow shortly after.

Until next year!

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Skeleton School: End of Season

I had enjoyed my first skeleton experience so much, that I decided to join Skeleton School at the Whistler Sliding Center. The training school is at least one weekend per month. About 2 hours each day. The training season lasts from about November until around end of March. Training start from the same corner as public skeleton events, which is called Maple Leaf (Corner #11, aka Shiver). Depending on the coach assessment of one’s performance, after 20 runs (over the span of several training sessions), one would move up to Luge Junior Start aka Lower Ladies (Corner #7, aka Lueders Loop). Which is my current starting point. Next level up, which I expect to move up to next season would be Lower Mens (Corner #3, aka Wedge). And last, well technically it’s the top start, is where the top athletes start, which would take probably a couple of seasons of training.

Now, while the sport has somewhat a high risk of injury; considering the speeds we travel at, skeleton is very safe; relatively speaking, compared to Luge for example. While I have not crashed yet (and would like not to), it’s only a matter of time. And I accept that. I did have a few very close calls. And it only made me realize that even when it gets bad, it’s not THAT bad after all. Yes, I have had rashes (ice isn’t as smooth as one thinks!), and let’s not talk about the bruises! I suspect we’re more afraid of the idea of crashing, rather than the crash itself. It’s the psychological factor that’s more present. During one of my sessions, I was having a really bad day. I was having horrible runs, during one of them, I had become airborne! When the sled and myself hit the ice back again (NEVER LET GO OF THE SLED, is the #1 rule), my hips hit the side bars, that form a cage to hold one’s body. Months later, and my left hip/leg join still feels stiff. Anyways, what I’m trying to say, is that the injuries are not something you can’t get from playing any other sport. Just that the odds are higher 🙂

Regardless, it’s loads of fun, and I plan to return next season. Here’s a podium photo (courtesy of Francis Chiasson) during the BCBSA & BCLA Cup; to highlight the end of season. Expect some of the people in this photograph to be on the Olympic team in the coming years. Not me though!

BCBSA & BCLA BC Cup @ Whistler, BC, Canada. (Courtesy of Francis Chiasson)

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Well… While We’re at It…

Some other useless odometer number sequence!

Odometer 124816


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I Can Do It Too… You Know!

I got this…

Odometer 123456

while driving to Whistler, BC through this…

Blizzard... Whistler, BC

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They See me Rollin’

Stuck in traffic on the way home from work… I was doing the duck face, btw!


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Saving Data From a Dead Hard Drive

I’d like to give a big shout out to Christophe Grenier & Damien Guibouret; creators of two independent soft-wares TestDisk & Partition Saving; respectively. Two strangers that saved me big time! Well, actually they saved my files. See my laptop drive crashed yesterday evening. Rebooted Windows 7, and it gets stuck at the boot up screen. I ran a few HDD diagnostic tools (boot CD/USB) and they all had bad news: The drive it kaputt!

Now, I usually have an external USB drive, that continuously backs up my data. However, the external USB drive had reached its limit. So, I had disconnected the now-full back-up drive, intending to upgrade to a larger external USB drive. This was two months ago. And now, I feel like crying! I immediately got on the web to find tools & tutorials and how to read data off dead drives; if it’s possible on my dead drive. Just when I was about to give up, and give my dead drive to professionals to attempt to extract the files, I had stumbled upon TestDisk. It’s a DOS based utility that could be booted from a CD or a USB key that will allow you to access a given set of drives. Now, I can actually navigate my dead drive, and try to copy my precious data into USB thumb drives. TestDisk’s interface isn’t very user-friendly, but eventually I managed to find my way through. Also, it appeared to have some limitations (Or I suck!) as I wasn’t able to copy data into another USB drive other than the one TestDisk was running from. Not a big deal though. The software would occasionally hang, as it would try read data for damaged sectors, so I had to rinse and repeat.

The process was slow and tedious. I looked again on the web for other tools, as now I’m armed with hope, I figured there probably would be other similar tools. Then, I found Partition Saving. This has a much more user-friendly interface; with the ability to mount a USB thumb drive, thus making the copy/paste process much more efficient. I would be able to select complete directories, and copy them to my USB thumb drives, 32GB at a time.

It took a while but I did it! Sometimes, I had trouble accessing some files with Partition Saving, so I would go back to TestDisk, and vice-versa. Now, almost a week later, I bought a new larger internal HDD, clean-installed Windows 7, and restored my laptop to its functional state. This is the second HDD that had died on me. The first one being in my desktop, about ten years ago.

I took this opportunity to reorganize my files, removed all the useless junk, and started backing up again! So, once again, thanks to Christophe Grenier & Damien Guibouret!

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Washington/BC Motorcycle Ride: Day 1 – Olympic National Park

Every time I’m out of town on my motorcycle, I take a peak at my motorcycle when I wake up in the morning (or leave the motel/hotel) fearing that my motorcycle would not be there, or that it would have been knocked over. So far, I’m grateful that none of that has happened! This morning was no different!

The plan today was to go to Olympic National Park, through Anacortes & Whidbey Island; for a total of ~670Km, including two ferries (648Km was on the odometer at the end of today). As I was mounting my top case on my bike in the morning, I felt that today could be a hot day. It would feel cooler once on the road. I grabbed some quick breakfast to go from the motel, and off I went.

My intermediate destination of the day was Anacortes, WA (which is rather a short ride from Vancouver, BC, @ ~ 150Km). However, once I got to Anacortes, I quickly realized that I’d need to come back here, on a later date, to explore this little town properly. It’s a beautiful little marine town. I headed South on Marine Drive to Deception Pass. Since I had decided to come back some other day to explore this area, I decided to not stop too much, and just zip through Whidbey Island, to the Ferry Terminal; to enjoy my time in Olympic National Park.

On my way to the Ferry; I passed by a Blockbuster store; I thought these had become extinct! I made it to the Ferry just in time; for the 11:45AM sailing. Motorcycle Ferry crossing cost me $US5.65 (Why does it cost ~$40 to go to Vancouver Island!? I’m looking at you BC Ferries!). Finally, I’ve made it to the Olympic Peninsula. I opted to take Highway 101, then switch to Highway 112; to stay by the sea. Though, I’m sure that riding through the park would’ve been beautiful. But, I’ve got a thing for water! It was a rather quiet ride on the northern side of the peninsula, not too much traffic.

I decided to take a small break, and have some packed-snacks for a late lunch. I stopped in Pillar Point recreational area in Butler Cove, WA. There was no one there other than an older couple doing some bird watching. The path to a small picnic/BBQ side area was gated. I was able to slip through with my motorcycle; where I rested for a while. I’m not sure if this rec area has been permanently closed, or just not open yet for the season! I can’t see why. It’s Summer, and it’s a beautiful day. That’s alright with me. It gave me my own private park for a little while.

Next stop was Forks, WA. A small town with a population of ~3500, which has become world-famous for being the center setting of the fictional events in the Twilight series. (I’m not a fan! I know this because Twilight mania was everywhere. I first came to know about this was while I was in Asia on a business trip. I was in a mall in Taiwan, and I went to a bookstore; to get a book for the long flight back home, and I saw Twilight signs all over. I didn’t know what it was, as I had never heard of it. Later, I found out that the second movie had just come out, so Twilight merchandising was all over the place. Incidentally, when I had returned to Canada, I realized that the phenomenon was global!). I had heard how Forks is now thriving with Twilight fans tourists, and they were right. There’s Twilight-themed things everywhere: Stores, tours, food stands, street art. There’s even an old red pick-up truck; with he vanity plate “Bella“. Whomever went out and got that plate first; if it’s real, was a genius. I wonder how much money he gets for displaying the truck there, that I can only imagine exists in one form or another in the Twilight universe.

I got back on the road. At some point, Highway 101 gets real close to the Pacific Ocean. It was the perfect ride. I’m riding through huge cedar trees, with some sunlight finding its way through the trees and onto the road. One could hear the waves. Occasionally there would be some gaps in the trees on the West side of the highway, where one could catch glimpses of the Pacific Ocean. If I wasn’t on my motorcycle, I would’ve found a safe spot to park the car, and ran down to those empty beaches.

I guess, technically I didn’t really ride inside of Olympic Park, I kind of rode around it. I should definitely make this trip again, and explore other roads. I really enjoyed the area! So, I started making my way out of the Olympic Peninsula; I had planned to spend the night in Everett, WA. I opted to go through Kingston, WA and grab the ferry there and cross to Edmonds, WA (which is at the 30Km half way mark between Seattle & Everett). The end of the day ride was very smooth, with very little traffic. It was the right finish for a great day. The ferry had a few other bikers there. I’m guessing all these people are crossing to go spend the night out in near-by Seattle.

I passed by SubWay, grabbed me some late dinner, and went to Sunrise Inn, where I had booked a room for the night. I have to say Sunrise Inn is probably the best motel; for its category that I’ve ever been to! From the outside it looks just like any other typical motel. But it’s the cleanest, it has the largest room (with newly remodeled washroom) I have ever seen, in its category. Usually when I go on motorcycle rides; I pick the cheapest place that I could find that would have good reviews, clean rooms, decent neighborhood, and free parking with WiFi; for  anything between  say $60-$100. As all I need is a hot shower and a clean bed for one night’s rest. Obviously, I’d pay more if I don’t have a choice. Also, for the same sort of service/quality, hotels in the US are about $30-$50 cheaper than in Canada. Anyways, Sunrise Inn is located just by a gas station (which is great as I can fill up my tank quickly, and not having to look for the nearest gas station. Something I’m always too exhausted to do at the end of my day). And a gas station means one could buy some food, snacks or drinks. There were a few restaurants within walking distance, like next door. And it’s a rather busy area, as I’m always concerned for property theft around motels (I did have my car broken into, while in Victoria, BC back in 2010). Anyways, for $73.27 a night, Sunrise Inn is definitely a great deal.

Tomorrow, the plan is to ride through the North Cascades and back into BC; for the second day of riding. Then for the third and last day, I shall be riding the long way back home through Lillooet and Whistler. So far, this trip is off a great start. I would definitely do today’s ride again.


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Washington/BC Motorcycle Ride : Day 0

So, it’s Canada Day long weekend, the weather is good, and I got me new tires on my bike. What better way to burn some rubber than on a multi-day ride. I had always wanted to tour the Olympic National Park (in Washington), the North Cascades (Hwy 20 in Washington), and Duffey Lake Road. As with most road trips, a loop (round trip) is required, and the return leg is often boring. So, my plan is to group 3 rides into one giant loop. Two days in Washington, and one day in BC. This way, I won’t waste any travel time on the “return” path. The total trip would be ~1900Km, over 3 days. This evening; I covered the first ~110Km.

Considering, that it’s the Canada Day long weekend, I thought I’d start my trip the evening before (as I usually do) to avoid the morning rush across the US border. I opted to spend the night in Burlington, WA. I went through the Peach Arch border crossing, and I must say I was surprised to see that it was relatively empty. I may have waited less than 10 minutes. I’ve been through this border crossing on previous similar occasions, and I had to wait anywhere between 30-60 minutes, and that would have been considered good!

Anyways, I’ve made it into the US, and it’s getting dark. I rode down to Cocusa Motel where I had booked a room. On such trips, I usually pre-book a room so that I’d have a planned itinerary. I usually go for the cheapest cleanest accommodations that would have had decent reviews on travel sites.

I ended with this motel, as everything else was fully booked (Canada Day weekend). The place isn’t bad. It’s clean (Mind you there was plastic chocolate/candy wrappers behind a solo couch. Why is there always wrappers behind couches in motels!? I had to move he couch to plug my chargers). The shower though, well it was clean too, but it was made for kids, or midgets! Also there was no water pressure at all!! Arrggh!!! I paid $77.14 for the night, which is typical. I wouldn’t mind coming back, if it wasn’t for the shower! Oh, and the Wi-Fi, well let’s make it two reasons to look somewhere else next time! And there was a douche bag parked in the motorcycle spot!! I had to carry my stuff from across the parking lot because an asshole decided to park his truck in two spots, one of which is dedicated to motorcycles only. I felt like parking my bike next to his truck to block his door, but I was afraid that the idiot would knock my bike over and split!

Tomorrow, I plan to ride to Olympic National Park, through Anacortes, Deception Pass, take the ferry from Coupeville, WA, then go around the Park all the way back to North of Seattle, WA; to spend the night in Everett, WA.

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Okanagan Ride

So, here goes my first ride of the season. Actually, I had intended to go for a long-weekend ride; last weekend. However, I had ordered a top case for my motorcycle, and I haven’t received it, yet. Even though I had placed the order online 6 weeks ago (5 weeks prior to my planned long-weekend ride of last week) I still haven’t gotten it! Since the weather is still not very predictable here in the Lower Mainland, I would have needed to carry with me my rain gear, and my heated jacket liner. So, I cancelled my ride last weekend, and had almost canceled my ride today, due to “chance of rain”. Had I received my top case,  I would have made it a full weekend ride, and spent the night wherever, rather than just a day-ride.

The reason I had wanted to go out today was to catch up to my friend Keith, who’s doing a bicycle ride from coast to coast across Canada (See my own motorcycle across Canada trip). He started his trip 4 days ago. And we thought it would be kind of fun to meet up wherever he’d be by today, and that I would ride there. And so I did.

Obviously, I started my day late. I woke up late, and then I took longer to setup my motorcycle for the day. Initially, Keith and I planned to meet up in Osoyoos. However, Keith had a change of plans, and I was running late, so we decided to meet in Penticton around 1PM.

I decided to follow the same route Keith had taken so far. I rode through Manning Park. I’ve never been through these parts before. The ride was a bit cold, with occasional very light rain. Once I got to Princeton, I was surprised to see how small of a town it is! I hear about it so much, I thought it would be… bigger! I stopped for some post cards, then off I went.

I finally caught up with Keith ~2PM, just outside of Summerland. We chatted a bit, then we agreed that I’d have lunch in Summerland. Whereas Keith (who had already had his lunch) would continue cycling to the next town over; Peachland, and that we’d stop there for coffee or something. I grabbed a quick bite at Tim Horton’s and off I went.

I have to say the stretch between Princeton to Peachland is very beautiful with Oakanagan Lake on the East side. Too bad it was a bit cloudy and cool today. I finally caught up with Keith again in Peachland. We looked for somewhere to sit and grab a snack. We finally settled at Bliss Bakery & Bistro on Beach Avenue. I ordered my self a lemon meringue tart ( I love lemon meringue pies!). Just as we sat on the terrace outside, it started to rain!

We moved inside the bistro, and chatted about how Keith’s trip was going so far and all. Even the staff over heard us talking about Keith’s trip and were impressed; so they offered him any treat he chose; on the house.

The rain stopped, an employee told us it looked like more rain was heading our way, so we started packing. We said our goodbyes. I wished him the best of luck on his journey, and to hope to see him when gets back.

I got back on the highway, for another 4 hour ride back home through Merritt, for a day total of ~800km. It’s funny that Keith stated that it’s a little bit depressing that I did in 4 hours what he did in 4 days!

Here you can find Keith’s blog post about today.

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Let the Grouse Grind Season of 2013 Begin!

Yeah, that wasn’t a long title at all! So I picked up the Grouse Grind activity again this year. All within the do more stuff, and procrastinate less movement. Last year, I didn’t go as much as I had hoped, and incidentally I had failed to achieve my objective. No worries, I’m back at it this year, and off to a better start. My first grind of the season was timed at 1 hour & 14 minutes; with 4; 1-minute breaks. I’d love to get to my personal best of last year of 1 hour & 5 minutes; with no breaks, within the next few attempts. And I hope to break the 1 hour mark soon thereafter.

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