Prompted by a new year (and those still holding on to the ancient art of blogging—here’s looking at you, Erin!) a ‘Best of 2021’ seemed in order.
As I attempted to look back, however, the past two years started to bleed together. Sandwiched between 2019 (that bastion of normalcy) and this next one is a 24-month mashup I don’t know quite what to make of.
So I sat down with a cup of coffee and my photostream to try and resurface all that was distinctly 2021. This process helped me see the big picture better and actually feel more hopeful about 2022, whatever it might bring. Thanks for visiting!
Felix is a delightful, busy, physical, curious kid and I love being his mom. He sleeps fantastically (even and especially in the van or a tent), is obsessed with pipes and volcanos, and makes me want to remember every moment. (Well, a lot of them anyway.) He started preschool in September and is thriving. Parenting is hard, and I have a lot of work to do when it comes to patience, discipline, boredom, irritability…the list goes on. (I wrote about the intersection of cycling and parenting for Grav.elle in the spring; it was rewarding to get some of my words out there again.)
There’s a wonderful local club here in Victoria called Tripleshot, which I joined experimentally in 2020. Last year I bumped it up a notch, frequenting the Tuesday and Friday 6 am rides. It was thanks to those rides that I grew confident enough to try some VCL (Victoria Cycling League) races when they started up again in the summer. I even did my first crit. It was just as scary as I’d imagined.
In the early spring, I took part in a local “King/Queen of the Mountain” challenge on Strava. My friend Dave, coach extraordinaire, guided me and kept me company, and, despite never being a super-strong climber, I managed to bag a couple of QOM’s. The best part? Learning more of Victoria’s tucked away hills and lots of fun k’s with Dave.
Another cycling win was planning summer long rides in advance with two of my cycling besties. This worked on so many levels and I’ll definitely do it again. In August, the three of us capped off the summer with a two-day “Big Loop” ride, with an overnight at Amanda’s cabin in Port Renfrew. Day 1 was a blast, but unfortunately on Day 2, only 15 k into the ride back to Victoria, I broke a spoke and had to hitchhike home. Hating to leave it unfinished, I convinced another friend to ride the whole thing in one day with me just few weeks later. Both experiences—the 180 k partial and 277 k full loop—were absolute highlights of my year.
If 2020 was a “dabble in gravel,” 2021 was a cannonball in. I bought a Ventum GS1 at the beginning of the year and enjoyed many local adventures with the club’s active gravel crew. I raced the Burnt Bridge Gravel Fondo in September and even did a couple of night rides. I tried and quit cyclocross in one season.
Outside of cycling specifically, 2021 was the year I become a Peloton app addict. I use the on-demand classes for all my yoga, stretching, strength, and indoor cycling. (No, you don’t need the $4,000 bike!) I even use it for the odd outdoor run (audio) and meditation. In April I did a virtual half Ironman and was a big fan of the DIY version, which included a cinnamon bun in transition 1 and a bath in transition 2. I logged a respectable time of 5:05, and even qualified for our world championship (to which I deferred to 2023 in Finland.) In September, on the heels of the best run fitness I’ve had in years and just weeks before the Victoria half marathon, I felt an all-too-familiar pain in my lower leg. I took 2 months off running and am just getting back to it now. (Perhaps this will be that bike-focused year I’ve always talked about doing.)
I was much more successful in curbing my alcohol consumption this past year, due to the discovery of some impressive non-alcoholic beers. You can sample a variety via NotWasted.ca, but my go-to’s are Athletic Brewing’s Free Wave Hazy IPA, Partake’s IPA and stout, and Red Racer’s Street Legal IPA. These tasty stand-ins deliver the relaxing, end-of-day ritual of a drink minus the negative side effects. (There was also a fair amount of the real thing, including trips up island to Unsworth winery, Red Arrow Brewing, and Merridale Cidery.)
Food-wise, there were no surprises. I still eat too much peanut butter and struggle with nighttime snacking (because what goes better with a non-alcoholic IPA than popcorn?) With my mom here I gave up on making my own sourdough bread thanks to her regular deliveries. (She’s the kind of mom who fills your fridge with homemade soup when you’re coming home from 2 weeks away and bakes you a veggie lasagne when you have guests coming into town. Need I say more?) I also cinnamon-bun sampled my way around Victoria (Patisserie Daniel for the win).
I didn’t seek out much new music this year, ending up with a lot of Taylor Swift’s Evermore in my Airpods. (The chorus of Happiness…my god.) Peloton classes include music so I didn’t have a need for new workout tunes—that and my Spotify was dominated by Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the Paw Patrol soundtrack. This year I’ll be experimenting with Zwift so will need to turn up the music creativity!
When I got injured in September I started pool running to podcasts, which I’d hit pause on for a few months. I ran to The Tim Ferriss Show, Hello Monday, The Moth, Where Should We Begin? and Simplicity Parenting, among other old favorites. I downloaded Sam Harris’s Waking Up app and have been enjoying his introductory course in meditation as well as the other audio lessons.
I didn’t read much, but enjoyed Lauren Sandler’s One and Only on the joy and freedom of having one child. I also read Sam Harris’ book Waking Up, the predecessor his aforementioned app. TV-wise, there was probably too much, but my standouts include: Mare of Easttown (unbelievable), Workin’ Moms (one of the few “comedies” to actually make me laugh out loud,) Maid (filmed here!), Alias Grace, Afterlife (so cute), Sex Education (also cute), Squid Game (hmmmm), and The Queen’s Gambit. I can’t remember what year we watched The Marvelous Ms. Maisel but it was also wonderful. (Did I seriously only read two books?? Yikes.)
We rented out our little Whistler getaway when we first moved to Victoria (and through most of the pandemic) but our renters left in August. We now rent it out to good friends on the weekends, so it’s ours again during the week! We went in August, late November, and the first week of this year. James and I both have 5-day ski passes and Felix has 12 days at ski school to use, so we’ll be back frequently. With plenty of gravel riding in the summer, and sweet cross-country skiing and an indoor cycling studio (pllllease open our gyms back up, BC!), there are enough activities to balance out my love-hate relationship with downhill skiing. One day. I also busted through the border for the first time in two years (!) with an early December trip to Florida for a digital team off-site. (AKA work trip.) Thankfully it included a quick stop to see a friend in LA; no trip to the US should include only Florida.
Our house continues to be a source of joy and work (both satisfying and not!). 2021 could be summed up in two parts: Finishing the studio and landscaping.
Studio: James wore a cute “playoff beard” until the studio passed all its inspections in May. We still need storage and some final bells and whistles, but it’s now a fully functional art studio and bare-bones home gym. Yeah!
Yard: In the spring, James and I leveled and sodded our backyard almost completely on our own, turning it from a soggy pit of clay, mud, and construction refuse into a grassy refuge over a weekend. It was immensely rewarding and I think the best strength training I’ve done in years. We also laid flagstones between the house and studio, spread drainage rock, tore out a 100-year-old tangled hedge, built a fence, and planned and planted hedges and shrubs that will probably die prematurely. My veggie garden must’ve known it was an afterthought, because it failed miserably. (Inside, we took the wall down between the living room and kitchen and James built a temporary “plywood chic” island, and tarted up some of the basement rooms, but other than that most of our effort was focused outdoors.)
We ventured beyond Victoria with a kayak trip to Raft Cove in July. It was the perfect introduction to kayak touring with a toddler. The trip kicked off with an 8-hour drive to Port Hardy, the northernmost sizable town on the island, followed by a 3-hour drive down a pothole-ridden logging road to an access point along the Macjack River. We loaded up the boats and kayaked 5kms downriver to Raft Cove Provincial Park, where we camped for 4 days with a bunch of other families. It was gorgeous, wild, and relaxing.
Later in the summer, we teamed up with my cousin and her crew for a weekend at French Beach. We’re looking forward to a year involving many more trips beyond the border.
Here’s to loving harder and treading softly, dreaming bigger and racing faster, less screen time and more face time. Here’s to writing even when nobody reads it and gardening even if the beets don’t sprout. Here’s to finding the world as we knew it, and making it a place we couldn’t even imagine. Here’s to 2022.