Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mind the gravel, or the road to retirement

My bike is named Estela. She's never let me down, being a sweet reliable ride on some long rides out of town. Like up to the top of Highwood pass, once alone wondering where the grizzly bear I'd seen was now, and once with a buddy. Did I mention no cell phone service?

But I haven't been out on her much the last couple of years, what with a cranky hip and low back. Things have been getting better lately. I still haven't been on the trainer much, but what little there is has felt pretty good. Good enough that I thought I'd change the tire and head out for an easy ride around the neighbourhood today.

Here's the quick summary.

There were a few times in there I was totally stopped, and I wasn't trying to ride for time, distance, or speed. I was out enjoying the fresh air, and watching out for gravel. There is still a lot of it on the roads. Mostly I kept to residential streets.

All in all it went very well. There is a steep bit coming up out of Fish Creek on the south side that had me standing in the easiest gear, and maxing out the cardio. I'm glad that didn't go on much further. Much of the rest was easy spin, looking around, getting used to being on a bike again. So nice.

If the weather is nice on Saturday I'm thinking of heading out 22x and down 22 to see how far I get. I was a bit worried about my knees and hip today, but there was no comment from them, though my right quad was doing some muttering. I'm thinking of heading out to see if I can make 50 or 75 K, and if I can't, I'll call for a pickup. I'm not so worried about my butt, I can always stand and coast, or take a rest if necessary.

The pool love was not there on Wednesday. I felt clunky and slow in the water, even though swimming long course was 1K, 19:30. Did some drill and some intervals, but my heart wasn't really in it.

What was interesting about the morning was going into Talisman about the time I normally leave to go to work. When I get out of the pool things are calm and quiet. This time there was someone in every lane of the 50 m pool and several in the 25 m pool when I started, and when I finished. There were more cars in the parking lot when I got there. On the way out the place was full. I don't know if that's because lots of people had vacation what with how spring break went this year, or if this is just a popular time for retirees to show up and do their thing.

This week of vacation has been nice and relaxing. I've been able to sleep in several times. Normally on vacation I've been active, doing things, going places. Lately I've been a bit more laid back. I'm content to stay home and putter and relax. It's been a tough slog at work since last September, so some down time has been much needed.

But the other train of thought has been this retirement thing. Back in 2009 when I didn't work for much of the year, I knew I wasn't retired. I was looking for work, and actively involved in training for Ironman. I was busy. Toward the end I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever have time to work again, but I knew I had to.

Since early 2010 I've worked pretty steadily. The shortest transition between jobs was a weekend (yay me!) and the longest was a couple months, which is about par for the course for my profession. The difference is that now on vacation I wonder about it as a lifestyle. Being retired, or semi-retired.

I've been mulling over semi-retired in my mind for a while. Right now my retirement model looks like working some of the time, and not working some of the time. A few months of work can fund a year of my current modest lifestyle. Why not work a bit, and take the rest of the year off?

Part of the trick is that I never know when the next contract might come. Even now with the price of oil in a pit, I get notes from recruiters asking if I'd be interested in a role. The problem is that I can typically only work one job at a time, given that I like to sleep, and do activities other than work. Yet when you aren't working and want the calls, nobody does.

Yet if I want to not work part of the time, I have to learn to do this. Every hour I don't work when I have an active contract is an exactly known number of dollars that I am giving up. I haven't actually spent much money this week, not in a cash sense. Well, except for a trip to Tri it Multisport, my favourite store for gear, to buy new goggles, body lube, and body wash. But the swims imply a membership at Talisman or a nearby City pool. Riding a bike implies bike maintenance. Even running, a low cost activity, requires new shoes periodically and various other running gear. Driving somewhere implies owning a car with the myriad of expenses that involves.

At the moment I don't think I could stop working and never work again, but it's getting close enough that I actually have to do the math. The assumptions I make about how long I'm going to live are typically the make or break element.

One of the business analysts just rolled off the project I'm on. During the course of the contract she decided she was done working for a while. She needed to retire. Perhaps not permanently, but for whatever reason she couldn't just call this a vacation, or a break between contracts. It had to be retirement. Not so long ago, that would have been unfathomable to me. Not anymore. Then I can spend more time looking at this sweet face.

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