Twice The Fun, Half the Money

Two words. University housing. Few travelers know that most universities have housing options for any visitors looking to save serious money on nearby hotels. Many times the options range from inexpensive minimalist dorm rooms with shared bathrooms to modestly priced hotel-like rooms with private bathrooms.

The Good Wife and I just spent three days living in a small, but very clean and comfortable hotel-like room on the campus of The University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The centrally located hotel is normally filled with conference participants, job candidates, and visiting faculty. The first night we watched our President pal around with the world’s worst dictator on a 42″ plasma t.v. and throughout our stay we luxuriated in the large commercial kitchen that came complete with a giant fridge/freezer; precise tubs and instructions for labeling our food; free fruit, tea, and coffee; newspapers; and an expresso maker complete with two types of beans waiting to be grinded.

And don’t forget U.S. readers, everything north of the border is currently 24% off, so our three nights cost $302. See how far that will get you in downtown Vancouver.

It gets better. Large university campuses like UBC, go Thunderbirds, have tons to recommend them, especially in the summer, when there’s a tiny fraction of the normal number of people. On our first campus walk, we met a man who befriended us and told us we had to visit the Rose Garden because “the roses knew you were coming, so they’re blooming” and also the Museum of Anthropology which has the world’s largest collection of Pacific Northwest indigenous art.

We dug the roses and the MOA, but the cheap vegetarian restaurants on campus rocked too. And the running was great, the trail that looped the campus, the tartan track, the coastline trail. Next time we’ll take our bicycles because West Vancouver’s ubiquitous bike lanes we’re calling us.

Best of all though was the swimming. After arriving, we learned a new state of the art aquatic center had recently opened in the middle of campus. BEST pool ever. Tons of natural light, beautiful materials, white, clean, spacious—the hot tub is designed for 34. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Entrance to heaven, $5. Bring a quarter or a loonie for a small or large locker and your own towel, shampoo, and soap.

The pool was set up for long course. I could’ve swam, hot tubbed, and steam roomed all day. The only mistake I made was diving off the 3 meter board. Trying to impress the Gal Pal was not worth tweaking my shoulder.

Speaking of swimming, the nearby 137 meter long Kitsilano pool, or Kits pool if you’re cool, was what inspired our trip to West Vancouver. We were mesmerized by the pictures. Not sure it was real, we knew we had to experience it ourselves. It’s described as the third sexiest pool in the world, but that was before The Good Wife graced it with her presence. It was hard to get her out of the water. We had perfect timing too, decent weather, a week after $3.3m in improvements, but a week or two before the summer surge.

And if you’re fortunate enough to visit Vancouver, don’t miss the Granville Island Public Market for some nice art and excellent food. Speaking of food, the first night we ate at Lido, one of the Richmond restaurants featured in the previously highlighted NYT article. We we’re the only non-Asians for as far as the eye could see, super cool. The bok choy, green beans, chicken, and white super sticky rice were off the charts. Heads up—they only take cash and get Canadian money in advance because they don’t want to be bothered with silly currency adjustments.

The best part of this trip, besides reconnecting with my best friend, was mixing with locals the whole time. Downtown we would’ve been two of thousands of tourists. On campus, in coffee houses, at Kits Beach, everywhere we went, we were surrounded by ordinary Canadians, largely Chinese-Canadians, living their daily lives. As travelers, that’s how we’ve always rolled.

IMG_0932_4Popt.jpg

UBC’s New Aquatic Center

kitspool-980x580.jpg

Kits Pool

 

IMG_1199

Now The Sexiest Pool En Todo El Mundo

IMG_1198.jpg

Post coastline to downtown run and leisurely swim with far fewer flip turns than normal.

Saturday Assorted Links

1. Where you live has a bigger impact on happiness and health than you might imagine. Unhappy? Maybe you should move.

2. The Most Ruthlessly Effective Move in Sports. Man, did I dominate kickball at Zachary Taylor Elementary School in Louisville, KY! A legend in my own mind. And another thing, you have to love Slate.com. Imagine, in this day and age, pitching this, “I’d like to do a piece on bunting in kickball” and then having it green-lighted. “By all means,” the editor responds, “this is a story that needs to be told.”

3. Dog ‘adopts’ nine orphaned ducks at Essex Castle. This link will be clicked more than all the others combined because who can resist doggies and duckies alone, let alone together?

4. The Men Who Terrorize Rio. Maybe our Second Amendment zealots who are down with citizen militias should vacation in Rio’s militia controlled neighborhoods this summer.

5. A Day in The Life of my Supposedly Frugal Stomach. An engineer tries to perfect his diet on the cheap.

Notes from the YMCA

• I mysteriously lost 3 seconds/100 yds recently. Depressing. Couldn’t find them anywhere. Finally, this morning, I found them. Today, sports scientists the world over are dropping their planned research to debate whether it was because I rested yesterday or had leftover quiche for breakfast. The peer-reviewed articles should make for riveting reading.

• Today’s swim workout. 200 free. 2×100 free. 4×50 fly/free, back/free, breast/free, free/free. Kick 100. 5x. 1-2 naked, 3-5 with toys. 3,500 yards. Perfect start to the day.

• There was an Olympic gold medalist (1984, Women’s 8 rowing) in the lane next to me who is also a loyal reader of the Humble Blog.

• Sadly, Free Styler has been missing in action this week.

• There’s another dude who has been completely overlapping with me on the pool deck and in the locker room every Tu/Th morning for YEARS, by which I mean DECADES. Note that I do not know his name. We are engaged in an epic standoff of introversion, each refusing to introduce them self to the other. He has no idea what he’s up against. Sometime, probably 10-20 years from now, he will break. Trust me on this, victory is assured.

Friday Assorted Links

1. This Man Expects to Run a 2:50 in the Boston Marathon on Monday. His passion and commitment are inspiring, but it’s also kind of sad that he can’t imagine what else he might do in life post athletics.

2. Roubaix’s showers a dying part of cycling lore. I’m a privileged, aging, soft lap dog for gentrification; sometimes though, we need downmarket grittiness for contrast if nothing else.

“It’s not the nicest of place to take a shower, to be honest. It’s freezing cold and not much privacy. That’s the beauty of it. It was so grim in there that it was a way to finish off a grim race. Why would you have a nice, comfy seat in a cubicle to have a shower after 260km of hell? It was a race from hell, so they were the showers from hell.”

3. What I’m reading.

IMG_1132.JPG

4. What I just watched. Among other reasons to commit the 55 minutes, the incredible vividness of the Charlottesville footage.

Trump’s Takeover.

How Finland Gets People Biking Through Winter

This may not be a NEWS ALERT, but I’ve gone super soft.

When I lived in Norway for a few winter months, I commuted to the University everyday on a mountain bike. At times, like skiing in fresh powder, I had a lot of fun making virgin tracks in 10-15cm of snow on a dedicated bike path. Everyone says I have amazing bike handling skills. And they’re right.

Fast forward a decade and I spend the winter spinning easily indoors while watching Frontline documentaries.

I need a kick in the ass or a ticket to Oulu, Finland. Or both. Here’s how Oulu, Finland gets 27% of it’s population to cycle to and from work all brutal winter long.

I think Dan, Dan, Washington State’s Transpo man should accompany me on my trip to Oulu. He has so much to learn.

“Oulu’s bike lanes are the result of decades of municipal leadership. The city’s first cycling plan was developed in 1969. . . . It was understood early that walking and cycling [have] to be treated as equal modes of transportation.

In this context, winter maintenance of bike routes is a natural extension of investments in cycling infrastructure. . . . .Keeping cycling routes open year-round was there from the beginning. Citizens never had to fight for it. . . . It was very much a civil servant-driven process.

The local government continues to prioritize active transportation, especially when the temperatures drop. Starting in October, Oulu is launching a new level of ‘super’ maintenance for cycling infrastructure during the winter months. Essentially, 15 per cent of the network, or about 150 kilometeres, will be maintained 24 hours a day.”

Given his Midwestern mix of charisma and charm, I’m sure Dan, Dan, WaState’s Transpo man can convince MC and everyone else in Washington to pay more in taxes to replicate Oulu’s commitment to cycling infrastructure including a nice cushion for winter maintenance.

At which point I won’t have any excuses for being a full-fledged winter weather wuss.

Bonus vid.

 

 

 

Thursday—Escape Fitness USA Ultra Flex Hard Foam Roller

If you’re under 40, move along. Over 40, read on and on.

I have a rich fantasy life. Por exemplar, I sometimes imagine being married to a massage therapist who schedules her clients around me. We’re talkin’ morning and evening massages.

Since there are no signs of the Good Wife getting a massage therapist license anytime soon, I have to roll my own with this, which I first experienced in the bowels of the Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria. $47.00, less than the price of one massage, I use it after runs to aid in recovery. When it comes to my 1,000 mile/year streak, it’s an integral piece of kit.*

*Pardon in advance if my syntax becomes more Euro as a result of the British series I’ve been watching—The End of the F***ing World and Broadchurch on Netflix.

download.jpg

 

My Life as a Triathlete

Last night right before bed I got a text from downstairs, “Weren’t you supposed to do a triathlon today?”

A couple of weeks ago I told the Good Wife I was thinking about doing an Olympic triathlon in Portland on July 30th. But I’ve become so flaky about racing the last few years that comment didn’t register with her, so a couple of days ago she suggested that after church we go to Alderbrook for brunch with the in-laws. Which is how I spent imaginary triathlon day.

Once I had eaten my vegetarian omelete and killer breakfast potatoes at Alderbrook, cruised Steamboat Island, and returned home, I turned my attention to how a friend was doing at Ironperson Canada in Whistler, B.C. She was 90% through the run and in first place in her age group, so I sporadically checked in to see if she won and thereby qualified for the World Championship in October in Kona, which happily she did.

I also checked on the 55-59 year old men to see how I would’ve probably done. Because I’m experienced, time my training sessions, and often train with others who do race, I can estimate pretty damn accurately how fast I would’ve gone over the 140.6 miles. I would’ve finished second out of 29 geezers.

This is what I do. I train, I think about racing, but I don’t actually register for any events. I even have a built-in excuse for not racing in our local triathlon each June. Too short.

My hangups are many. I need a good sports psychologist if you have a recommendation. I need to either turn off my computer and put on my wetsuit or come to grips with what I texted back. “It appears as if I’m retired from competition.”

IMG_0760.JPG

A picture from my last triathlon.