Free Beer and Lots of Mud.

As I rinsed the mud off his hands and out of his eyes with leftover beer I knew that this night would go down in history as being epic, especially as a naked man walked by just then.

This past weekend I attended my first ever North American Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. Ho-Down & Slo-Down is a long running tournament hosted by the Calgary Ultimate Association. I joined a team called “The Underwear Superheroes”.

The Underwear Superheroes!

Yes that is me in the fetching zebra print bra, not sure what kind of superhero I was, but it really didn’t matter. That group of people are awesome. I had the most fun I have ever had at a tournament, despite it being cancelled the second day due to rain. I can’t blame them because did it ever rain. The pitches were completely water logged Saturday night, and if we had played they would have been destroyed.

One of the joys of tournaments is that you camp beside the playing fields, meaning you can party all night and play all day. What I learnt from this experience is that the tent my parents leant me makes a much better swimming pool than a shelter. I woke up Saturday morning with the most unpleasant sensation of a wet bottom. Whilst relieved that I hadn’t wet myself, the realisation that I, and all my gear, were now islands in an ever encroaching lake, was a very harsh to way start to the day. The water had soaked through my sleeping bag and my pajamas to reach my warm flesh. And it was still raining hard.

Note to self: make sure the tent we bring with us on the Ultimate Ride is completely waterproof!

I had made the very wise decision to drive my mum’s SUV to the tournament, rather than my bike. This meant that I could now use the vehicle as a drying room for all my belongings. (Sorry mum!) As I finished hanging my things around the car, the rain finally stopped and it was time for the first game.

Allow me to explain how this tournament was organised. There were 3 divisions, A and B in the Ho-Down part and C in the Slo-Down part. We were in C. In our division, we had jolly ranchers vodka as spirit prizes, and vodka gummy bears for energy. At noon the free beer started flowing, and continued on until we could no longer stand. (This was a major factor in ending up covered in mud.)

The most amazing point of Ultimate I have played in my 5 year career was during the last game. We agreed with the other team (who were all dressed as cowboys) that the only throw anyone could make was a “hammer” (for an instructive video on how to throw a hammer click here).

A team we had played earlier were all dressed as zombies, and had been gathered at the side of our pitch watching the game (and eating jello shots). At this point they decided to all do a zombie march towards the disc. So there we were, trying to make a difficult throw to each other, with about fifteen zombies groaning and marching toward us. I have never laughed so hard, and I certainly wasn’t capable of playing properly, but it was a brilliant point. I am only sorry I don’t have a video to share with you. If that is what the zombie apocalypse is going to be like, bring it on!

After 4 games of Ultimate, we all showered before dinner. I found it interesting that most of the girls wore swimsuits in the communal (female only) showers. Maybe I have just been in Europe for too long, but I found it awfully prudish. I do remember being quite bemused at the concept of group showers when I first started playing Ultimate in the UK, so perhaps culturally Canadians don’t like to get naked together. Or perhaps more truthfully, they don’t want others to think they want to get naked together?

Dinner (or supper as it is referred to here) was a buffet of salads and meat. All you can eat and very delicious. Although for some reason the corn and bean salad was a lot spicier than anyone expected. I was so hungry I wolfed it down in minutes.

After eating the party started. There was a big tent set up with lots of tables and live music. There was a game set up outside that everyone referred to as “Cups”. It involved hammering two 5 foot metal poles into the ground about a foot apart, one set on each end, and placing plastic cups upside down on the tops of them. The aim of the game was to throw a frisbee at the poles and knock the cup off the poles. Then the opposing team would have to try to catch the cup before it hit the ground. It was raining again, so we didn’t spend much time playing. I was awful at it anyways.

Inside the tent they had two beer pong tables and lots of people were playing various drinking games at the other tables. Did I mention the beer was free and unlimited?

I really wish I had more pictures to share with you. Here’s a blurry one of me with Andy and Adam, two incredibly awesome guys from Edmonton who were on my team, and with whom we decided we came second in winning the party. (See the person in the yellow hat in the background – that team won the party.)

At the party. That is not my hat. I’m wearing it anyway.

This brings me back to the mud. Hours of partying in this tent, with incessant rain, meant that the ground became very, very wet. Then we all started dancing on this wet ground and it became muddy. So muddy that if you were a little unsteady on your feet for some reason and fell over, you would be turned instantly into a walking mud person. As the evening progressed, and we lost more games of beer pong, and it kept raining, the team in the green with yellow hats decided the dance floor was now a slip and slide. Somehow they convinced Andy to join in. This is how I ended up using beer to wash his hands and eyes, and obviously one of the guys on the party team thought clothes were unnecessary for this pass time. My favourite part of this final episode in the party was the female bartender – who whilst trying to kick them out started making fun of how small his manhood was. I guess if you’re going to put your balls on display, you’ve got to take the remarks!

I didn’t ever go for a slide across the dance floor, so I was only covered in mud up to the ankles, and splattered everywhere else. Muddy, happy and full of way too many vodka gummy bears, I found a space in a tent that was not doubling as a swimming pool.

Thanks to all the Underwear Superheroes, and to the organisers, for an amazing tournament. The rest of the Americas have a lot to live up to!




My First Time

Today was my first time doing it in mud. It was my first time doing it on gravel, my first really windy road and my first KLR threesome!

It was also my first time getting it stuck…

That is not the way I meant to go. And why is there a hill in between my tires?

I had an absolutely brilliant day today.

I met up with fellow KLR rider Dave and his lovely wife Andy (who also has a KLR) and we rode about 80 km out of town to a scout camp my dad volunteers at a lot. I went there often growing up and I knew that gravel roads would be involved. Riding on gravel roads is like riding over marbles. The solid confidence that tarmac gives is immediately destroyed. The deeper the gravel the more the bike seems to swim through it.

The key is to stand on the footpegs, which lowers the bike’s center of gravity and makes the rider more capable of adapting to the changing road conditions. I got the hang of it on the straights, but the corners are pretty scary.

Once we arrived at the camp there was a whole new challenge. Dirt roads. Sometimes not even roads, just fields, and mud tracks. Dave and I went along several, and I learnt to ride over logs (small ones, make sure the bike hits it at 90 degrees) and go through muddy puddles. I wasn’t entirely successful at riding through mud. I dropped the bike AGAIN. I watched Dave go through it, it looked deep, and I panicked. I went in, lost my cool, and ended up standing with my bike at my feet. At least I didn’t end up face first in the mud. I think dropping the bike teaches me important lessons. Like Don’t Panic! Where’s my hitchhiker’s guide when I need it?

The picture above is another moment when I panicked, and ended up stuck in the trees. At least I didn’t drop the bike that time! Dave was brilliant, very patient, and gave me loads of great advice. Thank you Dave!

Despite the mishaps, I loved every minute of it, my boots are covered in mud, the bike is a mess, and I’m heading to the mountains tomorrow for more adventure.



Falling for me

I learnt yesterday that I am not able to pick up my bike on my own. This message was reinforced today… My bike is falling for me and it has to stop!

You may ask how I learnt this? Great question!

The good news is that yesterday I PASSED my motorcycle road test. WOO HOO!!! I was a bit nervous that I would roll through a stop sign or fail to stop for a pedestrian (both automatic fails) but I managed to drive properly and only get 20 points taken off (you fail if you have more than 75 deducted).

Basking in the glow of knowing one more major hurdle has been negotiated, we had some friends over for dinner last night. Our guests included Nathan, one of Phil’s oldest friends. Nate has been riding bikes for over a decade and while showing off my bike, I mentioned that Phil was threatening to push my bike over when he saw it to see if anything breaks and make sure I can pick it up. Nate got a glint in his eye and before I knew it the bike was on its side and I was being instructed to pick it up. (To be fair he didn’t push it over, he laid it down quite gently.)

I gallantly followed the instructions from my course last week. Crouch down, get your butt under the seat, grab the handlebars with one hand and the back of the bike with the other, stand up. It all went brilliantly until the “stand up” bit. I could barely move it. I certainly didn’t even come close to picking it up. Oh dear.

Just to make sure I couldn’t pick it up on my own, I gave myself an opportunity to try again this afternoon. I got my brand new license plate this morning, and after installing it on the bike, I took the bike for my first ride around the block. I was reminded how big this bike is compared to my little Yamaha and also how loud and rough. I understand why they are referred to as “thumpers”. While stopping at a stop sign I felt like the bike was about to stall, and in my attempt to rescue the situation, I put my right foot down on the road. The road was a lot further than I was expecting! Those extra few inches were enough to throw the bike off balance, and it being so heavy, down it went.

This experience allowed me to perfect my “helpless female in distress” technique, which involved pathetically trying to lift the bike and getting nowhere. A nice burly man in a pick up truck stopped and picked it up for me. Oh the shame.

My plan now is to develop a training programme where I use the bike as a weight, and do some squats with it. I hope that if I concentrate on it, I will strengthen the muscles in my legs and the bike will become light as a feather. Also probably as soon as I can pick it up, the bike will stop falling for me.