Category Archives: Sask

Knitting bomb!

Some ‘captain cute’ (as Elizabeth would say) has taken it upon themselves to beatify the riverfront walk by adding some warm woolly sweaters and cuddly forest friends. I’ve never taken on a public art project like this, but I appreciate that someone else did! Since it arrived before any foliage it was a colourful addition to my commute. Here are a few different views…


IMG_20160509_193837 IMG_20160509_193850


More TV

Old wooden granaries with day-glo canola behind

Our lab made it onto the weekly agricultural farm program, Farm Gate.  Check out the link here and select ‘May 7 2016’ on the right hand side.  If you don’t want to hear about moisture levels and germination rates, skip to 6:38.

ErgoLab on TV!

Interview with CTV. Watching yourself talk shows you how many ‘ums’ and ‘errs’ you make. 🙁

Ergo Lab open house went great, though it was a lot of work to prepare for so I think everyone is happy that it is over.  CTV sent out a news crew, and the John Deere company magazine (The Furrow) sent a reporter/photographer, though that article won’t be out until August.

The lab group on open house day.  Great looking group!
The lab group on open house day

More about winter biking

A view of my winter biking gear

Winter biking takes a bit more gear than at other times. In addition to the studded tires and lots of lights/reflectors, it takes a different way to stay warm. Even little bit of wind can make ‘pretty cold’ feel ‘too effing cold’, so covering all skin is important. However, it is hard to have good visibility and make shoulder checks in a full parka with face snorkel. Some Saskatooners wear motorcycle helmets with face shields when it is really cold.

My solution has been a wool balaklava under my regular helmet. When it is really cold I have soft shell balaklava I stole from Graham. I also recently got some clear ski googles so my eyes don’t tear up and freeze when it is super cold. I wear my warmest ski gloves, my MEC down micro-puff, and my regular raintrench overtop. I wear my regular work clothes and shoes under that, although I often wear leg warmers while riding.

It has been really great to be able to ride in the snow, I feel a lot less house-bound. It is faster to ride to work, but I’ve also bee riding to the boathouse 3 times per week for rowing erg practices, riding to acroyoga, and soon starting a powerlifting course. Groceries still happen by bus or when we rent a car, since hauling a fully loaded bike over the never-cleared residential streets on the East side would be pretty yucky.

Prairie Indoor Championships

The set up of networked ergs. You can see the screen looks a bit like a video game.

It was a good day! I met my 2000m goal of sub 7:40, with a reasonable start, conservative middle, and furious finish.  This was enough to win the Masters category, and I saw a girl I beat was standing on the third place spot of the open category, so I guess it would have earned a medal with the young’uns as well.  My 500m was not so great, I rated to high (over 40 strokes per minute!) and couldn’t generate enough power without the length. Next time I’ll aim for 30-35spm, apparently we’ll be doing max 500s on Mondays through the spring.

There are a few more Saturday erg series events to do before we get on the water, mostly longer workouts like 6000m and 20min max meters. This last week in the middle of the week I beat my autumn 6000m time by >20 seconds, so things have definitely improved this winter.

I have been trying to get some other photos from folks who were in Regina too, but will just post them later if they come up.

Winter Cycling

Typical Saskatoon Winter
Typical Saskatoon Winter

This fall was the nicest and warmest since I arrived in Saskatoon, but the snow had to come sometime. Late November saw a bit of a dump, and then a cold snap.

Late November snowfall
Late November snowfall

I took some photos by my building to show how nice it was.

Wet and warm enough to stick to trees
Wet and warm enough to stick to trees

I was sick of being housebound in the winter, so I finally got some studded tires for my bike. Now I can quickly get out to further yoga classes, the rowing boathouse, and the fancy gym on the other side of downtown. I also got a merino wool balaclava which is comfy and breathable and warm enough even at -20. So far I haven’t ridden in my parka, I hope I don’t have to.

An upgrade for my trusty steed
An upgrade for my trusty steed

Awesome Autumn


Fall paddling in November
Fall paddling in November

This has been the warmest SK Fall in living memory, and probably the nicest I have had anywhere I’ve lived.  Highs of 20 in September and October, lots of sunny days, no snow or frost to speak of even deep into November.  Since the record cold for these months is something like -25 C, it feels like we dodged a bullet.  I think Sask kids didn’t even need their snowsuits for Halloween this year!  It means some winter sports folks are a bit bummed, but although it is pretty dark I have been paddling on the weekends, and no gloves or hats yet! It would have been great to have a fall paddling shot with golden leaves in the background, but they blew off in a storm weks ago. Instead you can enjoy this photo of single-shirt, no glove paddling in mid- November.

Harvest time!

Combining started a week or so ago in Saskatchewan, first peas and now wheat and canola. This video is from Kansas (they are a bit ahead of us in terms of weather and crop development). This year I have been out at farms a lot throughout the growing season. Harvest time marks the beginning of the end for the Farmers Back Study.

Straight outta OCN

I think our 'lead' is actually just the anlge and we are wash-riding here.
I think our ‘lead’ is actually just the angle and we are wash-riding here.

‘OCN’ is Opaskwayak Cree Nation, the reserve on the bank of the Saskatchewan River opposite the Pas in Manitoba (South of Flin Flon for those who feel disoriented.) A 6-hour drive from Saskatoon, just getting to the Pas is a northern adventure. I have heard about the canoe races there for years and always wanted to go. This year was the 50th anniversary of Treaty Days festival so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Treaty days are an amazing array of sport and cultural events: pow wow and jig dancing, trapper competitions, archery, axe throwing, running, biking, talent competitions, and… canoeing, of course!

Not your typical canoe race
Not your typical canoe race

The canoe race is about 2 hours of racing every day for 3 days, and placing is by sum of times over all the days. The course on days 1 and 3 is 4 laps around bouys on the river in front of the community centre. On day 3 there is one lap then a looooong slog upstream followed by a portage over to a lake and a finish on the lake beach.

The community is small but super friendly and involved in the events. People watched from all along the river bank, cheering and commenting on the action particularly at the bouy turns where a lot of jostling and re-positioning happens. As the first boat down the river containing a woman, we got some ‘you go girl!’ and ‘canoe-girl!’ (and in more romantic gestures I also got invited to the post-race party from what I like to think of as a feminist female-athlete admiring sports fan).

The only sunny day out of 3 racing days produced the nicest photos.
The only sunny day out of 3 racing days produced the nicest photos.

My racing partner Alex and I weren’t sure how things would go, since I don’t have a lot of experience in this type of boat, nor steering the boat from the stern (he has done this race at least 8 times over the years). We trained together in Saskatoon for the last 5 weeks or so, trying our best to train with faster teams. We are lucky in that some of North America’s fastest mixed teams paddle in Saskatoon, so we got beat down and passed and washed out many MANY times. It was a bit discouraging at the time and I certainly wasn’t feeling like a ‘big fish’.

Team photo at the awards
Team photo at the awards

However, I think the experience really honed our skills and fitness, and prepared us to hold on to a peleton of faster boats. We needed all those skills and experiences, and used them to hold onto some really strong men’s teams. At one point we did a strong pull and were in 3rd position, but our overall placing was 5th overall and first in the mixed division. In happy news, the band office kicks in prize money so there was a ‘winners envelope’ for being the first mixed boat, the 5th overall boat, and the 3rd boat from Saskatchewan. Yeeha!