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Saturday, December 31, 2016

And that was 2016!

Hello world! Been a while since I've popped by here, thought I'd update since I actually rode a bit this time around the sun.

A few life updates: been in Vancouver for a couple years, hopefully back to Victoria in 2017! I've been working for www.VeganSupply.ca for the last year and half, pretty awesome gig, I run the website, do customer service, and a million other things.

I didn't ride much for the latter half of 2014 or 2015, it's odd to admit, but I'm totally spoiled from living in Victoria. I was in Fairfield, literally a stone's throw from the 'Waterfront' by the Ross Bay Cemetery, and if I wanted to ride 30mins or 6hrs, I was immediately on a damn fine road, and had little to dissuade me.

Vancouver is a whole other beast. I'm pretty central (near Knight & 37th), and while I commend the bike routes and the excellent routing as a cycle commuter, as someone who wants to ride steady and (relatively) hard for a few hours without interruption, it's freaking hard.

It's a 10-20min 'commute' to get anywhere remotely low-disruption (stop lights & stop signs more than 300m apart), and even then you're still dealing with a lot of traffic, and limited options. I know if I'd come from somewhere else, I'd probably be grateful for the opportunities, but I just can't find my cycling groove here. On the road, or CX (Pacific Spirit Park is nice, but nothing like Royal Roads or even the Goose), or even offroad (rode out around Seymour a few times, very heavy free-ride orientation, and XC riding is a struggle..) I've been unable to find anything like the Dump or Tzu. Just some nice technical XC riding.

This year I at least started riding again, big thanks to Ken for being my riding buddy and getting out there. The year 2016 in numbers looks something like:

Distance     4,155.7 km
Time     175h 58m
Elev Gain     36,493 m
Rides     150

There's a lot more commutes in there (when in Vic, I logged maybe 2-3 longer commutes PER YEAR, although I commuted around for chores several times a week.)

I did make it up Cypress once this year at least!

Just for fun, here's the previous 3 years for comparison:

Distance     691.6 km
Time     38h 13m
Elev Gain     6,153 m
Rides     65

2014 (stopped riding regularly around July)
Distance     5,217.4 km
Time     198h 54m
Elev Gain     46,802 m
Rides     165

Distance     13,058.6 km
Time     476h 54m
Elev Gain     116,073 m
Rides     234

hahah..just a little change from 2013.

One other highlight for me was adopting Fiona the hamster, she was a rescue (thank you Small Animal Rescue of BC) and brightened my life every night for nearly two years. We got her in January 2014, we don't know how old she was, at least 6mos tho.

She was pretty unsocialized, was terrified of being touched, and disinterested in us humans. But after a few months, she started to warm up to us, and her amazing personality started to come out.

She was endlessly curious, and every night she'd get to romp around the bedroom (we'd block the doorway), and zip around, her feet making a little pitter-patter as she'd scout every corner and nook and cranny to see what was going on. She was actually quite the athlete too! I realized I could hook a bike computer up to her wheel, and so started tracking her running - I eventually even set up a Strava account for her!

By then she started slowing down, but I think her record was over 8hrs, and she'd go about 3km per hour!! She was definitely putting me to shame in the athletics department. ;)

She passed away Dec 4th from old age...it was really hard seeing her decline, knowing how active she was. I can't express how much I miss that little fuzzy monkey.

Incredibly I don't have any shots of her on the wheel, she'd always be on it in the middle of the night, so rarely got to witness her...who knows, maybe she was screwing with me, sitting beside it and just spinning the wheel...haha ;)

I also need to add one comment about pet hamsters: don't ever buy one from a store. Don't get a hamster for children either. It's a horrible misconception that 'hamsters are good starter pets', or that they're appropriate pets for children.

They sleep during the day, and are up late and night and early in the morning. They really shouldn't be handled, and don't like being held or pet. They need a LOT more space than those stupid fucking cages most people typically imprison them in. We made a pretty large 'compound' for her, but I still feel it was inadequate (and would let her range in the bedroom for an hour each night before going to bed.)

Other than the fact they can fit in the hands of a kid, there is no aspect of hamster life that suits a child.

If you can make the time and space to care for a hamster, please find a local rescue (sadly, SPCAs often don't take them in either) and adopt one (they are solitary so never keep more than one in an enclosure, but the pet rescue will tell you this).

You must ensure they have a reliable running wheel - they are very active animals, even more-so than dogs. (How many dogs will run upwards of 8hrs in a day?? Her average was 2-3hrs.) Build them a large enclosure (and be careful, they're very clever!! We found out ours was inadequate when I woke up one night to scratching noises on the floor, and when I turned on the light Fiefer was sitting on the laundry basket!!) After careful observation her 'compound' was secured.. Send me a note privately if you need any tips on this. We used a 2' x 4' base, with  1" posts and 'chicken' wire, and 8" of duct tape lining the top to prevent her from climbing out.

These wonderful little beings are so often neglected, but have very specific needs, and if allowed to thrive can really show off how unique they really are. I didn't expect this when we adopted her, I expected her to be pretty one-dimensional, but Fiefer totally obliterated that stereotype. I can talk for hours about all her neat personality traits, and all the things she would do. Just look how long this is already, and I've hardly said anything!!

Anyway, I wanted to make sure that this message got out about hamsters, and hope fewer of them live as prisoners to children.

So back to riding.. December has been pretty sucky in Vancouver as well, it started snowing on December 5th (the day after Fiona left us, oddly), and we're getting another snowfall warning today on Dec 31st. There's been snow on the ground for nearly all of Dec, that's got to be some kind of record..? This is one area that Vancouver has really disappointed - while some of the lower bike routes like 10th and Ontario are clear, the ones near me (Ridgeway, Dumfries) have been ice sheets nearly the entire time, making commuting by bike a real challenge. If trying to bike around Vancouver, your best bet when hitting icy roads is to pop over to the sidewalk for those particularly bad stretches.

A photo posted by Dave Shishkoff (@vegan_cyclist) on

I'll wrap up this entry here, hope you've had a better year of riding! And we'll see what 2017 has in store for us all. *cough*EmperorTrump*cough*

- Vegan Dave (for more regular updates, outbursts and inanity follow me on Twitter @vegancyclist and Instagram @vegan_cyclist )

About Me

Dave Shishkoff
aka Dave Noisy
Victoria, BC

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