Two Training Runs - Grampies Cross Europe Germany to Spain Fall 2023 - CycleBlaze

August 24, 2023

Two Training Runs

Sciatica: A pain in the a$$

Every time we leave Vancouver Island to go cycle in some exotic place, we take a last look at our forest and oceans and remark on how would anyone want to leave. We started this last look process a little early this time, running our bikes 35 km south (and back) to Victoria, and planned 35 kms north (and back) to Qualicum. These 70 km runs were mainly intended to remind ourselves (and our butts) about what it's like to go more than the 20-30 km spins we usually do around the house, in our sorry pretense of staying fit.

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To go to Victoria from our place, we always have to start out with a bit of the noisy Trans Canada Highway. But instead of following it over the pesky mountain known as the Malahat, we can hop a short ferry to the Saanich Peninsula, and from there take the Lochside bikeway right down to Victoria.

All this is terribly old hat for anyone who knows this area, or even for those who have read some of our past blogs. But even for us, after being away a few months, it's fun to experience again the beauty of the area and the fun of following the bikeway. Let's have another look:

The Trans Canada is noisy and not much fun. However you can see the wide shoulder. This shot is typical of North America, which lacks dedicated cycle ways but which does have wide roads. The mountains in the background are nearby, here on Vancouver Island, and on Saltspring Island. Even in this populated southern corner of the Island, you can see the many evergreen trees.
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Down by the water, the scene is much more peaceful.
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Canada geese, of course.
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The watchful eagles are themselves easy to spot.
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The hop across to Saanich takes about 20 minutes. On weekdays, old timers like us ride for free.
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It's a beautiful marine environment.
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At our bird feeder at home, we see lots of Finches like this one, which was out in the "wild" on a telephone wire.
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Kelly IniguezI guess the message about free food hadn't passed down the wire yet?

Sorry, couldn't resist!
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10 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Kelly IniguezIt's possible the finches are beginning to move a bit south. Maybe this guy already filled up on free food and is now out on an expedition.
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10 months ago
The Lochside passes through farmland, alond residential streets, and here on a bridge through swampland.
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Sue PriceOne of our favourite rides!
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10 months ago
Interesting green tones and patterns in the algae.
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Back home, plants on the deck are a joy. We will not be around to see them freeze! In the window you not only see the photographer, but also Christmas decorations. They will be in season again when we get back!
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This baby Annas hummingbird hopes we hang around to keep filling the feeder.
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The run to Chemainus was much anticipated, for several reasons. Firstly we arranged to meet up with Sue and Jim Price, from Nanaimo. These Cycleblazers have five blogs, and notably for our possible routes, one on travels in Mexico and Cuba. Next, the meeting spot was the Willow Street Cafe, which has some of the best cinnamon buns on the Island. The ride to Chemainus also figured to be great. The route is fairly bike friendly, and there are a few hills, which would be a good warmup for those in central Germany, that we will quickly encounter: the Harz mountains.

If you stay off the Trans Canada, the way to Chemainus can be very nice by bike.
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These anticipated pleasures, and in in fact our whole tour, got called into question when Dodie developed a stinging pain in her left hip. Some rapid Googling left us with the impression that this was a pinched nerve, something akin to sciatica. Our reaction to this, as to most things, it seems, was to jump on our bikes. The reasoning was that some gentle circuits could jog whatever was out of place back where it belonged. But even we recognized that we were not cycling to Chemainus. We would have to go in the e-Golf.

Our first gentle circuit happened to take us by our doctor's office, and Dodie decided to dive in. Miraculously, he had an opening just then. The diagnosis was Left Piriformis Syndrome. This definitely threw us for a loop, since this was a serious sounding thing, pronounced by a real doctor. But basically we had been on the right track. This is a tight muscle that is putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. Back home, Google added some bad news. The problem is made worse by sitting, and cycling. Long distance cycling is specifically not recommended.

In the past weeks, Dodie has been doing mainly three things: sitting at the desk planning the cycling trip, cycling, and also digging in the garden - another activity that can put strain on the back. 

The doctor recommended a strong muscle relaxant, an anti inflammatory, and physio. There were no physio appointments available soon, so we went and loaded up on the drugs. The muscle one also knocks you out, so best to take that at bedtime. Dodie tried it last night. This morning she got up and proposed some cycling, some garden digging, and some trip planning. Miracle cure? Not so much as stubborn Dodie.

We started with the garden digging - unearthing great swaths of Red Russian garlic. It turned out I was the one who quit first - complaining of the back strain, plus I am not so keen on things Russian lately. So Dodie moved on to more trip planning. At least we are not on the bikes today!

What will be a treasured photo of us with the Prices at Chemainus.
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Sue PriceAlways so fun to catch up with you two!
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10 months ago
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