Planning a bikepacking trip

My obsession with riding my bike may be slightly obvious. Aside from hanging out with the kids, there’s really not much else I want to do other than ride my bike.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk at work on a cold rainy day, wallowing in self-pity. I opened up Google map just to look at potential trips I can plan. This is one of those escape-reality things I do. I don’t like shopping or porn. I look at maps.

I decided on Phoenix. And riding a bike. And camping.

In a few days, I will fly down to Phoenix for a 5-day bikepacking trip. It will start right from the airport, up into the Tonto National Forest, up to Mayer, down Black Canyon Trail, and back to Phoenix. It will be a mix of pavement in the city, forest service roads, and some mountain bike trails.

I’m taking my cross bike. 40mm tires. A frame bag. A seat bag. Savanna’s sleeping bag (to save weight). And let’s see how this goes.

camp

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Josh turns eight

Josh is turning eight tomorrow. It is bittersweet for me that he is growing so fast. I absolutely love it that we can go for a bike ride together, bomb down the ski hill together, and he teaches me how to reach the bottom of the dive tank. We can have a conversation about what is important versus what is urgent. We can have our coffee date and chat each other’s ears off, or say nothing at all.

This year, Josh has picked up a new obsession with books. We are constantly taking detours so he can go through the little free libraries in the neighbourhood. Even when we go camping, he is picking up books to read in the tent. He loves writing down notes about sharks, dinosaurs, and whatever animals he reads about.

This summer while we were in Penticton for me to ride the fondo, Josh signed up to ride in the kids picolofondo. We missed his age category’s time slot, but he decided he will ride with the bigger kids category. He peddled his little legs out in the back of the pack, still smiling lap after lap. He also decided he will try the kids races at the cyclocross events. He did all four races we went to. Our conversations were never about the winning or losing, but about the new things he has learned. He has already planned out what races he wants to do next year, and how we’re going to ride a big section of the Kettle Valley Rail trail together in the summer.

When we have our before-bed chat each night, he is always keen to tell me about his insights, and never fails to ask me for my thoughts as well. If he is already awake in the morning when I leave for work, he will drop whatever he is doing to hold the door open for me so I can wheel my bike out easily. He will run down the hall to get the elevator for me, and gives me a hug and kiss.

Josh lives at the speed of light, and I am constantly trying to catch up to him. He learns and grows so fast, and I always feel a little out of breath trying to figure out what is going on next. He is curious, and would ask me a million questions about everything. He loves nature. He has been talking for a year now about how he can’t wait to learn to scuba dive so he can see all the sea creatures up close.

Josh, happy birthday. I wish you all the joy and knowledge and love and adventures in the world.

 

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Savanna turns six

Every year, I am surprised by how fast time has gone, and how fast the the kids grow. I’m always caught off guard a little when it’s time for their birthday. You’d think I’ve gotten some practice and would know better by now. But no, I’m still in shock that Savanna is turning six.

This past year, Savanna made some really significant strides. For the last 2 years, she has repeated the exact same swimming class over and over and over and over and over. She refused to put her face in the water. I want her to do this at her own pace. A few months ago, one day she just did it. At her own will. Then all of a sudden her swimming progressed at the speed of light. The other day she offered to teach me how to swim. I think that day is coming very soon.

Also, since she has entered the elementary school system, she has been very shy and reserved in class. You can barely hear her. She never spoke up. But this year, she has just gotten out of her shell. She puts up her hand to ask questions and answer questions. She participates. She speaks up. She gives direction.

Even though she is small, she has great endurance. She can hike and walk far. She can ski all day without feeling tired. She ended last season without needing any assistance down very long green runs at Whistler, even some easy blue runs. I can’t wait to see how she will progress this season.

Our favorite thing to do together include playing Spot It, Zingo, or Uno, or go for a walk and get coffee. She is so good at finding something interesting to do or look at, anywhere we go. She never complains about being bored. She adapts to her environment quickly. When we went ice fishing last winter, she spent hours playing in the snow in freezing cold temperature. On a long drive, she’ll hum quietly the entire time.

When she decided she wanted to enter the iRide bike races at cyclocross events, she didn’t care that she is still riding with training wheels when all the other kids are riding 2-wheels. She pedaled her little heart out, picked up her bike after a fall, and continued. I don’t give a rats ass that she rides with training wheels. Her grit and her determination make me just burst with pride.

Happy birthday, Savanna. I wish you a year full of new adventures and discoveries.

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Update on Vienna

Sorry for the delay on posting an update. I excel at procrastinating.

I survived Vienna. There was no spontaneously self-combustion.

The time difference between Vienna and Vancouver made it very difficult to speak with the kids while we were away. While I missed them like crazy, I only spoke with them once.

I was busy with meetings, tours, and events. While I was in meetings, Cliff rolled out of bed late, eat a leisurely breakfast buffet, and walked the streets of Vienna searching for apple strudel. It was a whirlwind week of activities, and little sleep.

Cliff and I also rented road bikes and went riding outside the city a few times. I’m not a big fan of the busy city, but really enjoyed the mountain roads and countryside outside of Vienna.

When the gala at the AGM ended, we hopped on a flight a few hours later. The minute I got to hold both kids in my arms, I felt like life was complete again.

I certainly do not enjoy being away from the kids. They were totally fine. They missed us, and missed being driven around. But they were fine.Would I do this again? I wouldn’t mind going away with Cliff for a weekend, but certainly would not choose to be away for this length of time again in the next few years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 years ago

10 years ago, Cliff and I climbed Kilimanjaro together. After that, we went on a safari with some friends. Then Cliff had to go back to work, so I met up with yet some other friends and did an Eastern Europe tour to cover Budapest, Progue, and Vienna.

Vienna is a beautiful city. Although not my all-time favorite, I am very much looking forward to being there for Cliff’s first time in Europe. As much as I whine about being away from work during a busy time, and leaving the kids behind (which I’m still freaking out about), I know I will enjoy some “us” time with just Cliff.

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Flying the coop

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For the last 8 years, we have never really left the kids overnight.

Let me clarify. We have left the kids with my parents in Taiwan for 4 nights last year, and Cliff and I went on a cycling trip. But we were never more than a 3-hour drive away from them. So while that was a huge step for us, it felt like we were close by enough that we can be there right away if needed.

The rest of the time, the kids have either had both of us there, or one of us there, every single night. This is partly because we just don’t have any family members to help if we wanted to get away, and partly because no other opportunities have come up for it.

Next week though, I have to attend our firm’s AGM in Vienna for a whole week. No big deal, I’ve been away this long before at conferences. The twist is, this year, all the spouses are invited to the AGM. I’ve been to Vienna and a few other cities in Europe before, but Cliff has never been. So we had a choice. Either Cliff stays home with the kids while I go to Vienna, or he comes with me and we leave the kids at home. After much discussion, we are now going to Vienna together, and his mom has agreed to watch the kids for us.

I tend to get into a lot of details describing my freak-out when I’m freaking out over something. Like this trip. Leaving the kids for this many days, being in a totally opposite \time zone, and being this far away for the first time–I’m not ready for this.

Let’s be honest, I think the kids will miss me, but they’ll be fine. They will have school everyday, they have their swimming lessons, they will be sleeping in their own bed, and they will be with someone who loves them to the moon and back.

Me, however, will be royally freaking out. I will not be coming home to them every night, I will not get to snuggle and kiss them goodnight, or nag them to pick up the damn Lego. The scariest part is, I will turn around and see Cliff–the only other soul on earth who I trust the kids with–right there with me, without the kids in tow! My little brain can’t even process what this is going to feel like!!!!

Itti is probably reading this and rolling her eyes. Yes, I’m sure “it’ll be fine”. And maybe it will be fine. But right now it does not feel fine. Right now it feels scary. Unfamiliar. Risky. Stupid even. There is absolutely no logic in how I am feeling.

We leave in a few days. I will report back if I survive this.

Adulthood

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When I was a kid, my mom told me I had no idea how hard it is to be an adult and I needed to be grateful that I was a kid. I remember thinking, yeah right. Adults get to decide when they go to bed, what they wear, what they eat, and how to spend the unlimited amount of money that they keep getting each month. And there I was, just a kid, with someone else always telling me it’s bedtime, I must wear this, I must eat my vegetables, and my allowance never covered every mechanical pencils my heart desired.

After some years of practice of being an adult, I have to say, my mom is right. Being an adult is hard.

I’m not whining about my life being hard. In fact, I am very grateful for how awesome my life is. What I still couldn’t come to grasp with is the responsibilities I have.

The responsibilities came when Josh and Savanna showed up. But honestly, it was pretty easy when they were little. I was pretty good at making sure they are fed, their diapers are changed, and they had somewhat of a sleep schedule. Luckily for me, they are healthy little humans, so I managed just fine.

Now they are bigger. They now have their opinions about things, and their little heads are always trying to make sense of the world around them. They ask a lot of questions, and they observe everything I say and do. How do I explain the swear words they learn from kids at school? How do I explain I use those exact same swear words regularly myself? How do I explain savings, investments, and not spending all your allowance on shitty toys? How do I explain that the adults in their lives aren’t perfect?

At work, it’s pretty easy for me to work hard and do extra things to get ahead. I was raised to keep my head down and work my ass off. As a young practitioner, I always had one of the highest billable hours, and faithfully worked weekends and evenings. I’m happy to be responsible to get files out the door because I can do what it takes.

Then I became responsible for other people, even when I have no control over their ambitions and work ethics. So what happens when they don’t hand in the file by the deadline? What happens when they seem to park their brains at home and give me half-ass files to review? What happens when they sleep in and miss meetings, or take time off without approval?

It’s probably to my detriment that I’m on social media at all. Seeing everyone else on social media with clean houses, well dressed and athletic children, successful careers–I wonder if I’m the only adult who isn’t very good at being an adult. I try very hard to put that thought out of my mind. It’s just that some days I really wonder, am I the only one who is just winging this?