The month ended with a bang. The sound of my head hitting an overhanging shelf at the Lazy Loaf and Kettle for the very last time. The bang was followed by a call to a friend with a sawsall and I sawed the shelf down and wrote a little note to my (former) co-workers. It didn't last an hour without someone editing the writing (loafiteers?) Since the restaurant wasn't about to give me a party (after seven years work) I shut the place down early and went drinking (the photo on the mug all too prophetic - time to hit the road). A few loafers showed up to get me going and the "gang" came en masse from the first night of the Calgary Blowout to help see me off and get ripped...
stone drunk is the only excuse I can possibly come up with for this embarassing little bit of sneakery my darling Ashleigh and her little dog committed upon my prostrate form.
Next day, Ashleigh and I hit the road for Penticton...Ironman weekend. No race for me this time around, but one has to be there in person to sign up for next year - the 25th anniversary race. We stopped to pick up our friend Cassidy's poodle...after all, travelling with a miniature dachshund can't possibly be manly enough (and I am one rugged motherfucker)...and hit the road.
After a spot of car trouble, we traded in the deSoto for something a little better on gas - a Dodge Caravan. I joke, but the minivan was actually better on gas than the "compact" Dodge Caliber that we rented for an earlier trip to Manitoba...basic common sense, really; you can't power a tracter with a lawnmower engine and expect it to be efficient. The upshot is that the Caliber is a piece of shit and the Caravan is a...minivan.
We stayed at the same Campground as last year and - for those interested - I've booked a site there for next year's race. If anyone wants to come out to cheer me on during the race, let me know and I'll add you to the list of folks who'll camp out with us...this pic shows a little taste of the view from our site. Next year's spot isn't right on the water but it's not bad...for the last availible spot at the campground. Our special secret place to stay has become a lot less secret. That and three RV lots have been closed down around Penticton to make room for condos...with another slated for closure this winter. The tourism board in the Okanagan better get off their asses if they still expect tourists. No place to stay=go somewhere else. Pretty basic.
I'm pretty fond of this particular sign...we managed to break every single one of the rules with our little party of women and girly-dogs (and me, now a gainfully employed union-member).
We managed to catch some of the race on Sunday; the swim start - a little smaller than last year's, only about 2350 swimmers - was crazy as usual and I was really impressed with the dedicated core of fans who stayed standing in the water for the 2:20 duration of the swim. Anyone who can't finish in that amount of time is disqualified from the race and given a DNF. There were two guys who were right on the bubble and the racer who made it in under the cutoff probably got the loudest support of any swimmer - including the world champion who was just one of several favorites to win this year's Ironman Canada.
Anyway, the guy who made it got the huge props - and you could see it help. When he heard the crowd screaming he hauled his fat ass out and sprinted through the time zone with less than 20 seconds to spare. His race continued (and I'll bet he rocked the bike) but the fellow right behind him didn't quite make it, though he sported a fine escort of kayaks and volunteers - the triathlon honour guard.
After the bikes started rolling out of town we went for a wander and killed the day roaming Penticton...and as anyone who's ever been foolish enough to disagree with me will attest, we found inviolate proof that Martin Street is a one-way. And that way is law; breaking it will cost you.
Before the race had even finished, racers had already begun camping in line to sign up for next year's race. You see, in order to sign up, you have to be present at 9:00 am the morning after the race - and next year's race is a very big deal. So, I had the joy of pitching my sleeping bag on the lawn (at 8pm, already three blocks from the entrance to the registration tent) and spending the night under the stars while the girls and dogs went back to tents and campfires.
Imagine my shock when the guy next to me turned and asked if I had brought him a Ginger Cream (a huge Lazy Loaf cookie). He was one of my regulars from the restaurant who'd moved to Vancouver a few weeks earlier and turned out to also be a triathlete. That place will haunt me til I rot into dirt. It was cool to see him - it meant I had someone to chat with and, later, someone to help me tackle the FUCKING FIREHOSE OF A SPRINKLER that went off at 1:00 completely soaking us all while we (briefly) slept. While I tried to fend the water off the line with my tiny, nearly flat air mattress, he and a couple of others jumped the sprinkler with a tent fly and some big rocks. We subdued it long enough for someone to find the shut-off valve and kill the water flow.
The night was much colder after that. But at least camping out was completely unnecessary. Turns out, since Ironman is expecting 3500+ athletes for next year, they've completely revamped their signup process. They had everyone processed by 11:00am - including the people who had a warm, sprinkler-free sleep and didn't bother to show up until 10:00. We're all delighted they finally got their system down.
After signup, I hopped into the minivan and returned to Calgary - the girls have a lakeside holiday planned but I had to start work at my new job on Tuesday. Yes, I work at Telus now. I'm back in the call centre. Yes it's as gay and culty as anyone would guess it to be...but they have a shower room in the parkade for cyclists and a deserted full-service gym availible 24-7. With training, writing, publishing, preparing for grad school, and making sure the rent gets paid, this job fits a whole lot of my bills. Job's a job and they were totally cool to hire me when they know I'm planning to leave in a year. Turns out, my training group are the first full-time CSR's they've ever hired. Crazy market in Calgary, man.
So...that's my last week, more or less...oh, except that I have a picture of Graham's naked ass and balls to post just as soon as I figure out what he did to my camera. Never bet against me over Winnipeg Jets trivia.