Biking to Wellness

Morning Light (by StarbuckGuy)

This week I took my longest bike ride yet. According to my cycle computer I rode a total of 18 km. I started early in the morning after waking at 5:30, looking out the window, and seeing a clear sky after several rainy days. I dressed quickly, toasted a slice of multigrain bread, smeared it with peanut butter and strawberry jam, gobbled it down, grabbed my helmet, filled my water bottle, and started out.

The night before I’d thought of trying my first ride to Jack Darling Park and the Rattray Marsh, just to the west of Port Credit in Lorne Park, or maybe it’s Clarkson. The old townships in the southern end of Mississauga blend together without any distinct boundary markers. But when I started out from our driveway, I decided to ride straight down Hurontario to Lake Ontario and catch the Waterfront Trail going east.

I wanted to ride at least as far as the Adamson Estate and maybe as far as RK McMillan Park, the western edge of the Lakeshore Promenade series of parks. The Adamson Estate appeared before I even seem to get started. I stopped there a took a couple of early-morning shots of the estate. Then I headed for the Promenade.

Bridge (by StarbuckGuy)

There are some nice little bridges along the route, crossing streams and creeks, all flowing into Lake Ontario. I arrived at McMillan, the farthest east I’d been along the Mississauga lakeshore trail. The sun was rising and I headed for a spot I remembered might be good for photographing the light. I almost stopped there, but noticed a photographer already set up with camera on a tripod. I didn’t wish to disturb him, so I rode on. A photographer up at the crack of dawn, enjoying the solitude of nature, hoping to catch a great sunrise shot should not be disturbed.

Instead I kept on riding. Already I was into new territory. As the sun rose I found myself riding directly into it. I fiddled my sunglasses and got them on my face but still had to watch carefully. It was blinding at times. I followed the path as it wound through parks, then cut northward where it hugged Lakeshore Road. Passing over railway tracks and through an industrial area, the path veered south again, cutting into a wooded area. Along the way I’d been seeing lots of birds, including a green heron flying overhead and an excitable number of redwings. A mockingbird mimicked in full song.

As I emerged from the woodlot, into another park structure, I passed by some baby cottontails nibbling on plants. A vole scooted across the road in front of me. As I rounded a corner, I watched a doe walk casually from the parkland into the woods.

Soon I crossed another bridge, this time over a more substantial stream — almost a small river. I was in a very large park and when I rode down to the beach I saw a cannon sitting on the sand. I couldn’t tell if the Waterfront Trail continued at this point or not. The signage was poor. Besides, knowing I had to return, I figured for a cardio rehab patient I’d gone far enough for one outing.

I didn’t know what park I was in, but I guessed that the large stream was Etobicoke Creek. Later, at home, I studied an Internet map and confirmed that my guess was correct. It was indeed Etobicoke Creek and I had been in Marie Curtis Park.

The trip back was pleasant, especially since I no longer had to face directly into the sun. I felt like celebrating so when I arrived back in Port Credit, I rode to the harbour and across the bridge to Starbucks where I had a Tall Bold and a big glass of water. Then home, where everyone was still asleep.

On the Trail (by StarbuckGuy)

Thoughts on my 63rd Birthday

Gene  (by Lizzzzzzzz)

Photo of Gene on his new bike by Liz O’Neill

My 63rd birthday on June 10 came and went but despite my intentions I didn’t write a blog entry on that day. It sometimes bothers me when I’m not writing every day, even if it consists of nothing but a few notes in my Moleskine notebook, but this hiatus in my writing is different. I needed some time off from writing and photography. Some time to think about things and to assess priorities. Exercise certainly makes it to the top of the priority list. It’s now two months since my bypass op, and I’m gaining in strength and energy. Besides the natural healing process, the main driver is cardiac exercise — primarily walking. Starting with little five-minute walklets that tired me out, I’m now capable of walking up to thirty minutes or so at a stretch. Marion and I have taken to having morning and evening walks through our neighbourhood. She’s a fast walker and I have to remind her occasionally to set a slightly slower pace.

In addition to walking, I’ve taken up bike riding. My main birthday present was a new Giant Cyprus DX hybrid bicycle. I haven’t owned a decent bike since the late 70’s and the few times I’ve tried riding bikes in the past couple of years angina pains cut my rides short. Fortunately the bypass seems to have fixed that problem and I’m taking modest rides in the neighbourhood and along the Port Credit lakeshore bike path.

I’ve been casual about photography during this period. Mostly I take photos of flowers in our garden and now that I’m walking greater distances I often carry an ultracompact P&S digital, taking a few shots around the harbour. I’m beginning to combine bike riding with a bit of photography too. I’m eager to get back to shooting B&W film, but I’ve been holding off until I was strong enough to develop film again. I’m just about there.

I can scarcely say enough about the support I’ve had from family and friends. I’ve had lots of visits, phone calls, emails, and local meetups. These kindnesses really bolster the spirits.

On the relaxation and entertainment side of things, my second birthday present was DVD disc set of the entire Buffy, the Vampire Slayer TV series. Marion and I had not seen the series when it was live, so we’re new to it but we’re already Buffy junkies. It’s a series of surprising depth and the dialogue frequently has us laughing out loud. It’s as creative as anything I’ve seen produced for television and each of us has our favourite characters.

The weather during my recovery period has been spectacular. Except for one week of hot, humid weather, the days have been cooler than normal for this time of year, with mixed sun and rain. It’s our favourite kind of weather and we’ve been outside as often as we’re able.

In some ways, I feel like it’s a New Year — that time when you resolve to do certain things in the near future. I’m unresolved about my writing. I tried some fiction writing last fall and although I learned a lot of things that will make me a better and more appreciative reader, I confirmed that fiction is not my strength.

I like writing essays, but I’m not certain what kind of essay-writing project I’d like to do. I no longer write articles for technology magazines, or do so rarely, but my interest in science and technology remains strong. I think that I’ll start including more on these topics in my blog writing.

There will undoubtedly be more blog entries about photography,  technology, gardening, riding, and walking. And the various thoughts that arise from reading and observing.

In closing this entry, I’ll simply say I’m grateful to be alive, to be recovering my health, to be surrounded by family and friends, and to be continuing my lifelong learning.

My deep thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read my blog entries. I’ll try to keep them interesting, and I really appreciate your comments.