Cycling while pregnant: the third trimester

My third trimester began at the end of June, just in time for the peak heat of Saskatchewan’s summer. Although I felt okay on the bike for the most part, I felt the heat much more quickly than normal and had to cut back on riding when the temperature soared. This meant sometimes having someone else replace me as a ride leader, occasionally swapping my cycle-commuting for driving in and opting for an evening gravel cruise with a friend who was passing through on her way to BC instead of the day of mountain biking we had planned.

My companions on a sunset ride on the prairie at 27 weeks – escaping the heat of the day instead of mountain biking in the thick of it.
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Cycling while pregnant – the second trimester

My second trimester corresponded to the spring and summer cycling seasons: gravel and road in good weather. The exhaustion I felt in the first trimester dissipated, the round ligament pains went away, and I was finding it easier to set reasonable expectations for what I could do on the bike.

I had already decided I wasn’t going to participate in our club’s Tuesday night race series. Although I was feeling more comfortable, I was taking considerably longer on climbs, so staying in the bunch was going to be pretty much impossible. Between pandmeic restrictions, risking a crash in the pack, and then having every ride turn into an individual time trial, I decided to take a different approach.

Going on a gravel adventure at 21 weeks.
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Cycling while pregnant – the first trimester

My first trimester roughly corresponded to winter and the start of spring – mostly fat biking and ski season. My policy was to try and get out and start a ride (or a ski), and just do as much as felt ok. Despite not gaining much weight, and not having any morning sickness, I took a big hit in terms of form. I was much slower than normal and there were a lot of days where I was totally exhausted after only 20 or 30 minutes of riding.

I was being thrown headfirst into figuring out how to do the activities I loved at a different level than before. I often felt nervous about how far to push my body early on, but looking back, I am happy with how I assessed and responded to how I felt.

Hitting the trails and getting some sunshine in the first trimester.
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Cycling while pregnant

The tide is slowly turning when it comes to exercise during pregnancy. Although the recommendation to ride a stationary bike for your cardio because it is safer than a normal bicycle is still extremely prevalent, continuing to ride a bicycle outside during pregnancy is slowing becoming normalized. I was certainly lucky to have several role models in my cycling community who cycled late into their pregnancies, or even all the way through! It’s my turn now to add to those voices.

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2019 Skinny Tire Cycling Year in Review – Gravel and Cyclocross

With snowfall and bitter cold at the end of October it seemed that fat biking season was coming early. But we got a reprieve this past weekend with a glorious few degrees above zero and fast gravel. I think it might be the last time I ride the gravel bike until next year, given that we’ve got fat biking on the plan for tomorrow night!

So given that gravel’s done…. I thought I’d recap a few events from 2019.

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RCC Ride the Bypass

Yesterday bike riders of all kinds came out to enjoy the pristine pavement of the Regina Bypass before it gets opened to traffic at the end of October. I am an analyst on the project, and I helped to get the ball rolling with MHI and the Regina Bypass Partners who kindly let the Regina Cycling Club put together an event allowing access to a portion of the highway.

We made a day of it, setting up the RCC tent with snacks and drinks and having access to a ~15 km stretch. Some riders did one or two laps, while others did 4 or 5. I manned the registration station and then joined our club for one hot lap, and one casual lap, before tear-down.

Mike leads ~100 cyclists down the Bypass

And they're off! The view from the registration tent.

All ages came out – the youngest participant was being towed in a trailer, while there were others in their 70s. It was mostly locals from the City’s many cycling clubs, but one fellow came up to our team after to thank us and let us know he was from Prince Albert!

CTV also came by and  covered our event for the evening news. They got some great shots, and interviewed Mike. The only thing they missed was the headcount… we had 106 signed waivers at the end of the day.

It was a real treat to be able to use the full width of the roadway, and to be able to race and have fun without being worried about being passed by vehicles. This is just one of many examples of the project being considerate toward cyclists – they have also done a good job of sweeping the shoulder of Dewdney Avenue, which is a popular route. I know we’re all looking forward to the highway opening up – that pristine 3 m shoulder is going to be great to add to the roster!

Cycling in the Carolinas and a Visit to PARI

Mike and I joined the Waterloo Cycling Club on their annual pilgrimage to South Carolina for a week of training camp. I was a bit of a hanger-on: the training camp is primarily meant to get the race team into shape for the season, although families do come out.  In other years, there are a few more casual riders, but this time things didn’t quite work out that way.  

First, the riding: I was a little bit stressed out about my abilities compared to the rest of the attendees, especially because I had limited pack riding skills and my fitness was not good. Working as a surveyor and spending all week on my feet means I’m often too tired to do much riding, other than casual paced coffee rides on weekends. This was exacerbated by coming down with a cold on the first day! Nevertheless our housemates were wonderful and understanding. One member of the race team gave me a piece of advice I have often applied since. Basically, that the world is beautiful and you should do whatever you need to experience it. If that means driving to the start, or part way into a planned route and meeting everyone, or riding solo, or whatever. Do something! Don’t miss out on what you CAN do because you are focussed on how you can’t measure up. So I did. I started a ride with the group, met them half way a couple of times, and on one epically long day, offered to drive to set up a rest stop with another less-serious cyclist, and ride from there. 

I started the day with the group and then solo-ascended Ceaser’s Head.

PARI and the Blue Mountains: The race team did an epically long ride, from our camp to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and then sweeping back. My friend Tasha and I offered to drive to the top of the climb up to the parkway, with drinks and food so that the team could carry less water. The team left early and we slept in, packed a cooler and then drove out. Winding through the Pisagah Forest and chatting, we suddenly passed a sign for PARI, the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute.  Oh my! I hadn’t made the connection that we’d be so close to PARI, I exlaimed. I then explained that my mother’s colleague from the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill, Dr. Mel Blake, had taken a job there after completing his Ph.D., later moving on to become a professor at the University of North Alabama.  We decided after our ride along the parkway, we’d pop in and see if we could have a look around. After all, radio telescopes are pretty cool.

We met the crew at the top of their climb, and chatted with everyone as they took on water, food and pickle juice. Then we got our own bikes out for a cruise along the highway. The views were beautiful, and it was definitely worth bringing the bikes along! Once we finished our ride, we headed back to the car and made our way back through the forest to PARI. We got there just before close, and had enough time to take the self-guided tour as long as we were out before the gate closed, we were good to look around. I was pleasantly surprised to see Mel in the exhibit’s welcome video!

PARI is a very interesting place. It began in the ’60s as the Rosman Tracking Station, used by NASA to communicate with satellites and manned spacecraft. The western 26 m telescope received the first true colour photograph of the full Earth from space (taken by the ATS-3 satellite), predating the famous ‘blue marble’ photograph of the Apollo 17 mission, and the station’s telescopes received the first TV transmission from space in the same year.

ATS-3 image of Earth
The ATS-3 Image of Earth received by the Rosman dish at what is now PARI.

Later on, during the cold war, the site was used by the DOD. It was at this time the 4.6 m dish on site was painted with a smiley face for the benefit of Soviet satellites. The DOD ended their operations at the site in 1995 and the site was acquired by Don and Jo Cline, who converted it into the PARI facility that exists today. Since 2003, ‘Smiley’ and the site’s 12 m telescope have been available for use over the internet – they are some of the few radio telescopes in the world that are controllable this way!

We enjoyed the exhibits, and walked around the grounds briefly before heading out to meet the cyclists back at camp. I was pleased with how it all worked out; I followed the advice to cycle in a way that worked for me, helped the gang out at a rest stop, and squeezed in some unexpected astronomy. That day in the Blue Ridge Mountains was my favourite of the trip!

The PARI Campus with Smiley and the west 26 m telescope.

Hello, again, Canada!

We’re all set up in Waterloo, Ontario. Mike is now a full time student in pursuit of a second degree at the University of Waterloo, and I am on the hunt for a job in environmental consulting.

It is nice to be back, but there are certainly things I miss about Taiwan, too. Still, one thing never changes… I’ll be cycling until it snows!

Cycling from Port Hope to Waterloo!
Cycling from Port Hope to Waterloo!

Cycling the West Coast of Taiwan

Many people recommend starting with the West coast of Taiwan and moving counter-clockwise when riding around the island. There are a few reasons for this – the higher population means more places to stop and fuel up and stay overnight, and more English speakers also helps with easing yourself into the Taiwan way of life, if you’re just visiting short term. It is also much flatter than the East, albeit most of the riding is along a pretty busy highway.

Wrapping up our cycle-tour!