Advanced Bike Riding 202: Downhilling It

Picking up from where I left off, I had just re-learned how to ride a downhill bike (something I had never forgotten per say, just never realized was different from road biking). From there, my ladies night group and I were on to our first run – Easy Out (I would have rolled my eyes at this on skis in the winter, but for now, I was grateful the run itself seemed to know it wasn’t going to throw anything crazy and death-defying at me).

Things started off with a gentle descend, but I could already feel a lump building in my throat just looking at all the horrible, terrifying rocks and pebbles along the route. (My road bike had been overthrown by far less on many an occasion.) I sucked it up and found the courage to grit through my terror (since there was a whole line up of girls behind me and I didn’t really have much of a choice), and started off anyways. From the entire experience, the number one thing I took away was that what downhill bikes lacked in extra gears, they more than made up for in handling and suspensions – the rocky and mountainous terrain felt smoother than tarmac!

Soon enough, I was at the front of the pack, whizzing down steeper hills and around tighter turns than I would ever dream of attempting on my road bike (not to say that the turns or slopes were sharp or steep by downhill standards though). Once I had let go of my fears and allowed myself to open up to the world of downhill mountain biking, I fell into that freeing, adrenaline-pumping sensation I love and finally began to understand the appeal of the sport.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get into the sport seriously (the cost of getting set up with a new armoured set of gear and bike rivals taking out a mortgage on a house), but I would never regret trying it out for the experience of it!

Advanced Bike Riding 201: Bringing it to the Mountains

As a self-confessed hipster, biking is by far my favourite form of transportation. So much so that the notion of taking car-powered inner-city transportation kind of baffles me because I don’t understand why anyone would pay to NOT ride a bike somewhere.

Despite all this, and the fact that seem to have very little regard for my personal safety, I’ve always been a little bit frightened by the concept of Downhill Mountain biking. Like, I have almost spun out of control riding over single pebbles on the side of the road, how does anyone survive whizzing down almost-vertical descents over top of narrow, rocky pathways at breakneck speeds?

However, since Whistler is so big on downhill biking in the summer, this fear seemed a bit irrational since there were hundreds of people lined up for this exact activity on a daily basis (the fact that they were always wearing stegosaurus levels of armour didn’t exactly help though).

Seriously, they wear more armour than people in the army! (Photo credit to Rino Peroni)

Seriously, they wear more armour than people in the army! (Photo credit to Rino Peroni)

All things considered, it still felt like one of Whistler’s must-dos. Plus, every Monday and Wednesday during the summer is ladies’ night, with cheap deals on rental gear, lesson and lift pass combos (for ladies of course, men’s night was Tuesdays). So eventually, I found myself at one of these outings, putting on a stegosaurus amount of armour and hopping on a ridiculously expensive fixed-gear bike (it hadn’t yet dawned on me that since I would only be going downhill, gravity would take the place of much of the pedalling).

I was then quickly hurdled into a group of girls who seemed to fit the description “knows their way around a road bike, but still genuinely confused as to why there are no gears on their downhill bike”. We got a quick lesson on how to load our bikes onto the chairlift and I felt a quick pang of sadness at the fact that it wouldn’t be my skis accompanying me on this journey. This quickly faded though, when I realized that I didn’t feel like I was going to freeze to death sitting on the chairlift!

Despite our general knowledge, once we reached the top of the mountain, we all still had to re-learn how to turn and steer. As it turns out, the whole layout of a downhill bike is completely different! They’re basically built to stand on and actual pedaling is a cramped and awkward affair (which in hindsight I must admit is fair enough, because if you need to pedal down a black diamond slope, you’re doing something wrong). Turning itself was about 10% handlebar motion, 60% body leaning the correct direction while standing on the bike and 30% sheer luck for not tipping over – a combination I somehow managed to string together.

Now, I hadn’t actually done any downhill biking that involved going down a physical hill, but I could feel the whole not being seated on my bike-thing becoming a little bit more natural and was feeling pretty freaking good about myself (for now..!)

Rafting Away

As a true Canadian, I feel like the only way to end my hiatus from the blogging work is with an apology: I’M SO SORRY FOR DROPPING OFF THE FACE OF THE PLANET. (I would tell you that having my laptop die and having too much fun in Whistler are the excuses I have for not posting, but I don’t believe in excuses, so I’ll admit I’ve just been a terrible blogger!)

To pick up from where I left off, I promised an elaboration on my bungee jumping shenanigans, which you can find here. (I know it’s to an alternate profile of mine, but I still feel like it sums up the experience pretty well.)

From there, over the course of the summer, my computer has gone through a bit of a rough patch (read: it completely died and I spent several months using and iPad and being in denial of the fact that I needed to re-invest in a new laptop)!

I've had to rely on other people's selfies with me in the background to prove I'm still alive!

I’ve had to rely on other people’s selfies with me in the background to prove I’m still alive!

With that being said, this summer was far from all bad. I made some ludicrously chimerical friends (who I have far too many Facebook selfies with). I’ve got into some pretty preposterous scenarios, which I will attempt to explain (only some of though, others are better left unsaid).

(The results of this night, however, canNOT be explained!)

(The results of this night, however, canNOT be explained!)

Last you’d heard, I had just gone bungee jumping. This was, of course, one of the best times of my life! Seriously, after jumping off that bridge, I was literally laughing to myself mid-air like a deranged maniac because I was enjoying the adrenaline-filled freefalling so much!

After that, I decided to slow things down a bit with some whitewater rafting down Whistler’s Green River. Now, I’d been rafting once before outside Ottawa back in Ontario with my family, so I felt like a pro on my first excursion tackling the green rapids (“green” not only being the actual name of the river, but also the fact that they felt the equivalent of a green ski run).

Racing down the river (backwards on occasion), my boat fared pretty well considering most of its paddlers had no idea what they were doing (ie, they nominated me to be the “captain” of our raft). I could feel my dragonboating experience from back in Singapore coming into play during the river’s slower sections – along with fact that I just let my intuition (and the rapids themselves) take control during the quicker bits.

While the whole excursion lasted over 3hours, it felt like a blink of an eye and I was left craving more. So much so, that one of my buddies and I decided that we needed to up our rafting game and tackle the Squamish-Elaho Rivers and some more extensive class 4 rapids.

This next adventure was a full day affair, starting off with an hour-long car trip to the start of the excursion (which I was surprised I was able to sit through, given how excited I was). The wait was well worth it though, as it seemed that as soon after we had been seated in our rafts, we had arrived at a set of cliffs that our guides let us scale up and jump down. Now, I’m no stranger to rock (or even ice) climbing, but scampering up a rock face while wearing a lifejacket (which made me quite a few inches thicker and more likely to totter off the edge in) is a whole other story – my center of gravity was so mis-aligned, I was amazed I didn’t fall off the cliff I otherwise would have considered a green “no need for ropes” climb! Despite feeling like a climbing newbie, I enjoyed being able to jump off the top of the cliffs into the rapids below.

From there, it was time to start the actual paddling experience. After some brief instructions (“paddle when I say paddle”), we were facing our first set of rapids, in which I found myself either catapulted into the sky and paddling through mid-air, or pushing my oar through a rapid going about 100x my paddling speed.

"Paddle, even if you're 10ft in the air, I don't care!!"

“Paddle, even if you’re 10ft in the air, I don’t care!!”

Despite my feelings of futility, I paddled onwards until we reached a section our guide reckoned we could swim though – later on I learned that these were class 3 rapids that very well could have killed us, but at the time, it seemed like a good idea. With my innocence still in tact, I hopped out of the nice, safe boat and into the river. Within moments, the water had taken control and I was being carried away over rocks and through rapids at breakneck speeds, laughing my head off at the sheer recklessness of the moment.

"Haha! My life isn't immediately in danger for the next 1 seconds, haha!"

“Haha! My life isn’t immediately in danger for the next 5 seconds, haha!”

Soon enough however, we reached a calm section of water and I climbed back into the safety of the boat before making it on to some of the more traitorous terrain the excursion had to offer. There were some points amidst the rapids where I thought for sure that our boat was destined to tip or that I’d be flung out, but somehow, we managed to persuade through, fully intact!

By the time we had made it back to base camp for dinner, I felt as though I had fully earned the burger that I hungrily devoured. Whistler may be a mountain town, but that day, I learned its rivers are also not something to be reckoned with!!

A Comparative Analysis Between Skydiving and Bungee Jumping

It didn’t take long after my Tough Mudder shenanigans for my body to start going into adrenaline withdrawal and since the weather was heating up, my plunges into the glacial lakes weren’t cutting it like they used to. There was no more (literal) breath taking and heart stopping excitement and I needed more.

Fortunately, I had already made a pinky-promise serious level commitment to check out Whistler Bungee with a buddy. So I leaped at the chance to take this up and was back again at a point in my life where everyone was constantly telling me that I was crazy (something I’ve kind of grown to enjoy and is probably a sign that I should start attending AA meetings for adrenaline-junkies anonymous).

One thing that confused me a little bit though, was how much more dangerous the world seems to think that bungee jumping is over skydiving. Now, I’ve been skydiving before in Golden 2 years ago, but I’ve always kind of considered it to be scarier than bungee jumping if only because you’re falling from a taller height. Now, since I love comparative tables so much, here’s a full list to compare the dangers between skydives and bungee jumping:

Scary Table A
Skydiving Bungee Jumping
(In my experience, I) fell 3,810m (In my experience, I) fell 49m
Fatality rate of 1 in 100,000 (literally 5x more deadly) Fatality rate of 1 in 500,000 (only 5 people have EVER died bungee jumping)
Possibility of parachute not opening (I know there’s a back up, but really, how often is that going to get checked!?) Possibility of chord breaking (I jumped right after someone who was bigger than me, so I knew if they didn’t break the chord, neither would I)
Trusting a random stranger to open the parachute at the right time (human error is always a possibility) Trusting the chord that didn’t break on the last jump to not break again
Possibility of sprains, bruises or broken bones even if the parachute opens Possibility of whiplash if you start spazzing around excessively
Strong winds could blow you away to kingdom come, you’re in the air for over 10mins, more than enough time for a sudden hurricane to blow in Strong winds could slam you into a rock if you’re with a company silly enough to put a bungee near a ragged cliff face

I don’t know about you, but I still think skydiving is riskier and people just seem to think that you’re guaranteed to get whiplash bungee jumping. The chord is really stretchy everyone, it’s not a sudden car crash stop (which, by the way, makes driving a car far riskier than either of these activities with a fatality rate of 1 in 6,000). Also with bungee, you get a couple separate freefalls because you’re bouncing, but since they keep getting smaller, they actually feel quite calm and enjoyable by the end of it.

Now, since I don’t want the moral of this blog post (if blog posts can even have morals) to be that skydiving and bungee jumping are both scary and dangerous, here’s a bonus table comparing their awesomeness:

This was so awesome, I even made it my Facebook profile pic!

This was so awesome, I even made it my Facebook profile pic!

Super Happy Fun Time Table B
Skydiving Bungee Jumping
(In my experience, I) fell 3,810m (In my experience, I) fell 49m
Bonus scenic airplane ride Bonus scenic canyon views
That feeling of letting go when you jump out of an airplane That feeling of letting go when you jump off a bridge
The fact that you just backflipped out of an airplane The fact that you just backflipped off a bridge
Falling over top of mountains Falling down a canyon
Scenic views and (literally) walking on a cloud while you parachute down Rocketing back up a canyon
Way cooler selfies than your friends in a sweaty club bathroom Way cooler selfies than your friends in a sweaty club bathroom
Being on a massive adrenaline high for the rest of the week Being on a massive adrenaline high for the rest of the week

In conclusion, you should note that Table B has more points than Table A, and therefore everyone should really try both of these activities.

(Also, I set out to make this a post about my actual experience bungee jumping, but got distracted and will now save that for next time.)

Some Tough Mudder Fudders

I have to start this post off by saying that Facebook’s suggested posts are terrible influences that clearly want me to die. (Okay, maybe a tad dramatic, they only wanted me to electrocute myself, sorry.)

Okay, after that dramatic introduction, I’m going to back things up a little and explain my actual story. Basically last year, a friend of mine posted something like “OMG, that sh*t be cray” with a link to Tough Mudder and my curiosity got the best of me and I did the unthinkable and CLICKED IT. It took me to an intense looking page filled with photos of people scaling walls and jumping through fire. Needless to say, my only thought before closing the tab was “OMG, that sh*t be cray”. However, since Facebook has a crazy amount of cookies that go into generating the suggested posts that spam your newsfeed, ever since then, I’ve been getting hundreds of Tough Mudder updates.


Spoiler Alert! Looking back, Tough Mudder is just far too up on this Facebook thing, they even sent me an exclusive cover photo I could use after finishing!

Eventually, my brain got tired of processing an infinite amount of ads as “cray” (because let’s face it, it’s a terrible word) and started turning them into “if that random person can crawl 19km through mud carrying massive logs while smiling like its no big deal, so can I”! Things escalated quickly from there when I clicked a link about Whistler after getting a job out there, as Facebook put two and two together and started subliminal messaging me to sign up for the Whistler Tough Mudder and at that point, I started casually mentioning that I was thinking about doing Tough Mudder. Soon enough, my cry for insanity was answered by a friend of mine in Vancouver who was putting a team together and next thing I knew, I had a ticket.

While the physical process of getting the ticket was easy enough (I did it lying in bed in my PJs, like a true Tough Mudder), the emotional process was quite the ride, taking me through 20 frames of mind from purchase to race date, as outlined below:

1)    Haha, just kidding, I’m not actually going to sign up for this, it’s insane and I’m nowhere near close enough to being in Tough Mudder-shape

2)    Yarg, I need to stop being a wimp, I still have time to train, plus, it will be so awesome to say I’ve done Tough Mudder

3)    Okay, I’m actually going to do it, CLICK

4)    OMG, why did I just pay to kill myself!? Nope, not going to do it, I just won’t show up, this was a mistake

5)    Gawd, I paid $185, I can’t just waste it, might as well step up my running routine for training

6)    Why did I even start running, this is painful, my legs hurt

7)    Wait, now I’m feeling better, this is really fun, bring it on Tough Mudder, I will DESTROY you

8)    Waitaminute, I’m barely strong enough to move my bed across the room and not even tall enough to reach the top shelf of my kitchen, how am I supposed to climb solid walls?

9)    Well, I’ve already climbed walls of ice, if anything, wooden walls will actually be easier

10)I’m so ready for this, just gotta make sure I get some rest and a good night’s sleep

11)Why did I let myself get called into work the night before the race!?


13)Why did I get too excited to sleep, I’m going to pass out

14)Oh wait, coffee is the answer to everything! Coffee coffee coffee!!

15)Wow, everyone doing the race looks really intense – is that guy wearing an army shirt? Does that girl have a headband saying she’s done this 6 times!?

16)Okay, getting close to the starting line, need a photo, it might be the last one of me ever

17)Wow, I look tough, I can TOTALLY do this

18)Is that the electroshock therapy obstacle in the distance!? Looks scary, maybe I can’t do this

19)Wait, I’m right at the starting line, no turning back now (like seriously, there’s too many people around me, I can’t get out)




From that point on, (as I’m assuming you can imagine), things got even more insane. There were way.too.many obstacles that either required me to lift something atrociously heavy (*cough Hold Your Wood and Warrior Carry *cough) or climb over an overly high wall (I’m looking at you Glory Blades, Berlin Walls and Everest). Now, as someone who named their blog Travvelsized because she’s a short, tiny girl, these obstacles were kind of hard..! Lucky for me though, the name of the game at Tough Mudder is “teamwork” and I had some pretty stellar teammates to help boost and pull me up and over the walls. 10462689_10204214858794118_3206102964491589114_n

None of this is to say that I was an un-tough Mudder though! I breezed through the water obstacles jumping 12ft into freezing water in Walk The Plank and Arctic Enema and flew through mud pits, under barbed wire and through pitch-black tunnels in Kiss Of Mud, Mud Mile, Trench Warfare and Prairie Dog. These obstacles are the reason I wanted to do Tough Mudder, this is the kind of thing I do for fun!

Throwback to jumping into the glacier-fed Lake Louise

Throwback to jumping into the glacier-fed Lake Louise

Finally, after 19km of running and 18 obstacles, it was time for the grand finale, Electroshock Therapy. Despite the fact that you needed to sign an extra waiver for this obstacle because it’s literally just you running through a field of electrical wires, I knew they couldn’t make the shocks strong enough to kill / maim anyone without getting into some serious legal troubles, so I decided to just sprint it through and hope to weave through as many of the wires as I could.

"Please don't die, please don't die, please don't die!"

“Please don’t die, please don’t die, please don’t die!”

This worked for about half the course, until I heard a less-than-Rice-Krispies-friendly snap, crackle, pop of a wire hitting my arm. The shock stung, but I made my way through avoiding further harm (although wincing quite a bit). I was about to reach the finish, when I looked back to see that one of my teammates had disappeared! Looking around, she was facedown in the mud of Electroshock Therapy! I sprinted back through the obstacle (wincing even more this time) and luckily, she was able to get up and meet me halfway, explaining that she had passed out, but wasn’t in any pain.

Needless to say, by the end of the course, we, along with all the other Mudders, had definitely earned our headbands and finisher shirts! Also, Facebook is now suggesting I sign up for the Vancouver Triathalon, go base jumping and sign up for the Spartan Race!

Is it bad that I want to sign up just so that I can scream SPARTAAAAAAAAAA

Is it bad that I want to sign up just so that I can scream THIS! IS! SPARTAAAAAA!!

The Quest for Ogopogo

Like for any budding crypto-zoologist, my arrival in Kelowna meant a lot more than just delectable food and drinks. It meant I would have the unique opportunity to hunt for the infamous seamonster, Ogopogo.

In case you’re one of those rare people who aren’t up on their knowledge of dinosaurs and Canadian folklore, I’ll explain that Ogopogo is said to be a 50ft long Basilosaurus.

Interpretive drawing of a Basilosaurus

Interpretive drawing of a Basilosaurus

With this, Ogopogo specifically was said to have frozen in Lake Okanagan until the 1800s when it was first spotted again by a group of first nations. From there, it was not seen again until 1926 (during a 30 car pile up nonetheless). Since it was the 1920s and all anyone did was hangout in speakeasies listening to foxtrots, it was decided that the beast would be named after Ogo-pogo, the Funny Fox-Trot.

During my quest, I decided to document the details of my experience in a daily diary:

Day 1

As this marked the first day of my first excursion tracking down mythical creatures, I decided to try to seek the aid of an accomplis for my mission, a dive operator called Serpentine Aquatics. However, after a brief inquisition, I found they were not true to their serpentine name and that I would have to continue my quest for the beast on my own.

After our interaction, I decided to extend my research to determine where and when the best places to look for Ogopogo would be and determined that City Park in downtown Kelowna was said to have various attributes to the mythical being.

Day 2

I embarked on a brave journey to City Park, evading perils such as oncoming traffic and the intense heat of the sun (by Canadian standards). After an intense excursion, I reached my destination, but the elusive Ogopogo was nowhere to be found. I passed countless wild shops and restaurants, but there was no sign of the beast itself.

While the lakefront was beautiful, I was looking for something more!

While the lakefront was beautiful, I was looking for something more!

After much searching, I was prepared to adjourn my quest for the day when I saw a distinctive shadow in the distance. Although I was filled with excitement, I approached with caution, fearful that this would be a false sighting. As I approached however, it became clear that this was indeed the creature I was searching for! Ogopgo had revealed itself to me!

Ogopogo lives on!!

Ogopogo lives on!!

Once Ogopogo had revealed itself, it seemed to lose its shy demeanour altogether, and I made 2 additional sightings that very day at a nearby water park.


It appears to have a playful nature!

It appears to have a playful nature!

Day 3

Still high on the success of the previous day, I expanded my search out of the downtown core and found that Ogopgo inhabited a diverse range of habitats from mosaic walls to children’s playgrounds and laundromats. It was beginning to become clear that Ogopogo is not a shy beast, but really a bit of an attention whore who loved the spotlight and had become a type of unofficial mascot for the town of Kelowna.

IMG_1218 IMG_1274

Day 4 (Concluding Remarks)

While Ogopogo is said to be an ancient being, it is very much a symbol of the present, bringing forth the spirit of Kelowna and the Okanagan as a whole with its fun attitude and aquatic nature.

I would encourage anyone who visits its natural habitat to seek out this fine creature and get to know it and its culture.

Dining Around The Culinary Capital of Kelowna (A Travvelsized Odyssey)

Despite the amount of time I spent at Kelowna General Hospital around my pie-baking adventure, I quickly came to realize that hospital food wasn’t exactly giving me the full taste of what the city had to offer.

The food gods demanded salmon!

The food gods demanded salmon!

But I was only providing offerings of strangely coloured mush with a side of strangely colourless mush!

But I was only providing offerings of strangely coloured mush with a side of strangely colourless mush!

I mean, the almighty food gods would definitely smite me for eating nothing but mush in the home of the culinary champions of 2011 – 2015.

 According to the “Welcome to Kelowna” sign, anyhow

According to the “Welcome to Kelowna” sign, anyhow

In order to appease the wise and powerful food gods, I decided to show my devotion (read: eat) at a variety of their temples (read: restaurants) – a brave and honourable task, I know!

Since I starting out in such an unfavourable position in the eyes of the gods, I needed to start my path to salvation in their mecca: RauDZ.

One of the most sacred temples of food god worship

One of the most sacred temples of food god worship

As the top rated restaurant in Kelowna, the gods were certain to appreciate my prayers for Ken’s mushrooms, the ‘RJB’ and the daily salmon special.

From the name and the delicious taste, I can only presume the “Ken” for whom this plate is named is one of the higher food gods

From the name and the delicious taste, I can only presume the “Ken” for whom this plate is named is one of the higher food gods

Grilled beef tenderloin, poached crab AND cured bacon, all in one burger! (The gods were quite pleased!)

Grilled beef tenderloin, poached crab AND cured bacon, all in one burger! (The gods were quite pleased!)

The gods would finally receive what they truly desired!

The gods would finally receive what they truly desired!

With all of this love for the food gods, it would have been rude to completely ignore the drink gods now! To keep them appeased (as if my last post wasn’t enough), offerings of Lavender Bees Knees and Rose Coloured Glasses were made.

You know the drinks are going to be a sugar-coma of deliciousness because they have names that don’t really have anything to do with what’s actually in them

You know the drinks are going to be a sugar-coma of deliciousness because they have names that don’t really have anything to do with what’s actually in them

While this level of devoted worship is usually enough to appease even the snobbiest foodie food god, I was digging my way out of a mushy trench (see the first photo of the post) and would need a Crazy Good act of devotion to prove my loyalty, so I decided to head to Smack Dab (which I was a bit dubious about, considering their slogan was “Crazy Good Food”, I mean, McDonald’s slogan is I’m Lovin’ It and they’re definitely no where near my most beloved restaurant).

However, there was no room for doubt as the food gods commanded my worship and attention. I began with an offering of Spinach & Artichoke Dip For Two and must say this was a bit of mis-nomer, it should really be called Spinach & Artichoke Dip For Two Snorlaxes Or Two Hundred People.

Here’s a comparative size chart for the dip, keeping in mind that Snorlax weighs 1014lbs

Here’s a comparative size chart for the dip, keeping in mind that Snorlax weighs 1014lbs

After persevering through, mains were ordered, stomachs were filled (to bursting) and the food gods were finally appeased.

Can't say no to some good ol' Crispy Steelhead Trout!

Can’t say no to some good ol’ Crispy Steelhead Trout!

... or some Prosciutto Di Parma Pizza

… or some Prosciutto Di Parma Pizza

My long and rigorous odyssey had finally come to a successful closing and while the food gods had permitted me to go back to munching on mush, the adventure proved to be enough to keep my foodie levels peaked for the remainder of the trip.