Friday, November 29, 2013

I’ve been going to the gym for almost two years now. It’ll be two in February, but it’s close enough for this blog post’s purposes. According to the computer they use to keep track of my usage, that’s meant more than 300 trips the gym during that period of time. I also just paid for another year’s membership, so that number is only going to keep going up
I’m not putting that out there to look for applause, but to point out that I spend a decent part of my week at that place. I try very hard when I get to the gym to focus on the workout. It’s meant in the past that I’ve been exceptionally, and inadvertently, rude. I put my headphones on and just go. So people have said hello to me and I haven’t acknowledge them. That’s because I didn’t notice they were there. When I’m in the zone, which is where I try to be, nothing gets through. That’s a good thing. I’m not there to socialize; I’m there to do one specific thing and then go home.
Having said that, and because I’m a person who can still get easily annoyed, I can still notice things at the gym that pisses me off. The top thing tends to be the music. To say I have a healthy loathing of 95 per cent of EDM is an understatement. This is easily dealt with by simply putting in my headphone. The thing that annoys me is when people go to the soundsystem and crank it to the point where I have to put my iPod on blast to drown them out. When my hearing gives up the ghost in about 20 years time, I’ll probably trace it directly back to Atii Fitness.
Let’s put it this way, I already own two pairs of Bose headphones. I really don’t need those noise-cancelling earbuds they just released, but I am lusting over them.
There can be other things, but they’re minor and I know it. Barbies more interested in gossiping or posing than doing their workout. Gronks (male Barbies) doing the same thing, only grunting louder. There aren’t many, but it never takes much to get on my nerves a bit. Atii is actually pretty good, considering it’s a small gym with limited machines, weight and space. But considering I’m working out and grumpy, it’s not a surprise that my annoyance level is pretty easy to trip.
But on the weekend I saw something that actually made me question someone’s sanity. And I mean that very literally.
This past weekend was the first blast of winter for Iqaluit. Temperatures were in the -20C range, which is cold, but not ohmyjesus cold. The kicker was the wind, which was hitting 90 km/h, which meant the windchill settled in around a cozy -42C or so. We’ll deal with far colder than that before this winter is out, but it’s the first real taste of it this season, so there’s always an adjustment time.
So it’s bitter cold, extremely windy and while there isn’t much snow falling, what’s on the ground is blowing around, so there were a few whiteouts. Sunday was unpleasant, shall we say. That’s why I was astonished to notice a bike tied to the steps of the gym. Yes, someone biked to the gym in that weather.
I’m friends with one of the volunteers at the gym. He wasn’t sure who it belonged to, but confirmed he looked out his window earlier that day and saw someone biking up the road.
Look, if biking is your thing, good for you. I have a dear friend in Edinburgh who bikes everywhere and is a biking advocate. I think there comes a point, however, where you go “You know what, maybe I’ll leave the bike tied up today.” -42C windchill and 90 km/h winds with reduced visibility would be a little past that bar, I would think. My gym friend and I were discussing, quite seriously, if the person might not be mentally ill. I think you would have to be.
There was a time when I would simply go “Well, there’s a Darwin Award waiting to happen.” But I think I’ve changed as I’ve gotten older. It’s not just about making a choice that I think, sincerely, is a sign there’s something wrong with you. It’s also about the consequences when this inevitably goes wrong. When s/he gets hit by a car in a whiteout. Or hits a patch of ice and goes flying. Or gets frostbite or worse. It’s the trauma the people having to deal with your mistakes go through. It’s what your family and friends will go through.
I hope someone talk to that person and tells them they really need to think twice about that choice. Because they’re going to get hurt. I have no doubt about that.


Kevin Randall said...

Hi. I might be moving to Iqaluit in the new year for a job. I've read your blog for awhile and it's been helpful for planning purposes.

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on a person bringing their own cardio machine equipment? I'm like you on socializing at the gym, I tend not to, and I don't like waiting to get the use of equipment either.

I know weight wise, I'd have to wait until the sealift to get it brought down since they weigh 200-250 pounds (it'd be an elliptical). I'm just wondering if you know of many people who've brought their own with them, and if they had many problems with it breaking down, fitting into their residences, etc.

It'd be a large initial cost and shipping fee, but I'm just thinking the long term benefits could be good.



John, Canberra AU said...

(Here's a title: "Evolution in Action".)

You're old enough to know all the ways you can die. Of course, that doesn't stop you from climbing Sri Lankan monuments. Maybe the cyclist feels the same way now that you did then.

Speaking of Darwin and exercise, my theory is that we've evolved to contribute to a tribe. If your body doesn't believe you're contributing, by lifting heavy animals or running after smaller ones, then you're a drain on the tribe and should die. Exercise is a way to convince our body we're contributing to the "tribe" so it doesn't kill us.

towniebastard said...

Huh, I didn't even realize I published this. I must have it publish instead of save. Oooops.

And Kevin, as for equipment, you can certainly bring it up on the sealift. Lots of people do. On the other hand, you can also find equipment for sale up here on Facebook on the Sell/Swap group. Gym equipment up here, like down south, tends to be bought with the best of intentions, but often not used with them.

Rob Rao said...

Hi Craig, long time reader (well, since August anyway – your FAQ on moving up here was really helpful), first time commenter. ;)
I felt compelled to respond to this post, because you’re talking about my housemate Dave (he’s another Atii volunteer, and it was his bike locked up outside the gym). As far as I can tell from living with him over the past couple of months, I can vouch for the fact that he seems to be of (at least) average intelligence, with no obvious mental health issues. ;)
He says he was late for his shift at the gym that day, and knew a cab would take 5-10 mins to get here, then might stop for other people, etc. We live up in the 2600s and it’s an easy 7-10 min downhill ride into town. (I also brought a bike up here and use it to commute to and from work. Which may make me ‘mentally unfit’ for commenting here, but I’ll try to be at my most articulate and logical below.)
I’m just curious why you seem to think it perfectly ‘sane’ to drive in whiteout conditions, but then if you hit someone while doing so, it’s the fault of the person who got hit? Kinda reminds me of Rob Ford’s ‘my heart bleeds when a cyclist gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day’, speech: .
Also curious why you think one would get frostbite, ‘or worse’, by biking. (What’s worse than frostbite? Extreme frostbite?) Is there something you know about how to ride a bike that requires exposed skin? I’m currently biking in parka, toque, nose/mouth guard, (and sometimes) ski googles. When I walk into town or work, I wear the same thing. And frankly, the fact that it is a c. 7min ride downhill from Tundra Ridge into town instead of a c.20min walk means less time exposed to potentially frostbite-worthy conditions. Sounds pretty smart to me.
Also, where are these ‘patches of ice’ a cyclist will wipeout like crazy on? As I’m sure you know, ice forms when water/rain freezes. When you have consistently sub-zero temperatures, no new ice is forming. You have at the most dry snow blowing around. The roads here are frozen asphalt (nothing insanely slippery about that), and those strips on the other side of the posts where people walk (and I bike) are packed hard snow. Again, no patches of ice. Rubber bike tires travel over it pretty well.
Now, I understand this section was in keeping with the general overall misanthropic tone of your post, and maybe your point was simply supposed to be ‘you have to be crazy to bike in a blizzard’. If you’ve left it at that, then I would’ve agreed with you and moved on. I realize I’m the newbie here (going on a mere two months), and you’re the 5 year plus veteran. But those last couple of ominous, foreboding paragraphs, written by someone who obviously hasn’t even attempted to bike up here, stuck in my caw and didn’t sit well.
Will I still be commuting by bike in January or February? Maybe – most probably – not. And I agree that one probably shouldn’t bike when the winds get up to 90km/h, but then one probably shouldn’t be walking or driving in that, either. Why no hate-on for the pedestrians or drivers? I just felt I should say sometime lest other readers of your blog go away thinking it’s okay to run down cyclists and pedestrians in Iqaluit.
Rob Rao

towniebastard said...

That post should have gone though another edit, to be honest. I tend to write very aggressively the first draft, and then tone it down a bit on the second.

As well, and you certainly have no way of knowing this, one of my closest friends is a...devoted cycling advocate. She's also one of three people on the planet I have said I will never argue with because I always lose. Without fail.

I don't blame cyclists exclusively if they're in an accident. I think whatever your mode of transportation (foot, bike, car, ATV, skidoo, dogsled) you have a responsibility to be safe, to not put yourself at risk, and to acknowledge the weakness of your mode of transportation.

I don't hate cyclists. Now, cabbies without proper snow tires on the their car, sliding all over city....those bastards I hate. I will get thrown in jail one of these days because of one of them.

But the conditions of that day - -42C, wind gusts of 90 km/h, and areas of reduced visibility...that was not responsible biking. That was not acknowledging the limitation of that mode of transportation. If you hurt yourself, then that's your risk. But if someone hits you because you couldn't compensate for a gust of wind, or a whiteout causes a collusion, well, that driver is going to be dealing with that incident for some time.

I used to bike a lot more when I was younger and probably should do it more now. There's something to be said for the commitment to doing it here. But this isn't a biking town. You have to be that much smarter about how you choose to get around. And maybe that's not fair, but it is reality. And biking on that day was not a responsible decision.

Nancy said...

Keep biking as long as you can, Rob Rao, and I hope your roomie does too. There's nothing irresponsible about it, if people can be out driving and risk actually killing someone in a car, then they can be out on a bike or trotting around town on foot. And I've got plenty of arctic seniority. :-) If you skid, your vehicle is not as deadly to this pedestrian as the skidding car is, and devoted winter cyclists are pretty darn good about not skidding.