Healthy Swellness: Chevrolet Ron Fellows Driving Experience

Ron Fellows Driving Experience

I think I’ve ‘fessed up before that I don’t love driving. So why do I keep snapping up the opportunity to drive performance cars on a race track? I figure that even though these are performance cars and the experience different than driving you’d do in the city, the more time and skills I develop behind the wheel of any car will help me feel more comfortable and maybe even more skilled handling a car when I’m on the road.

You’ll recall I was on a track in honour of Father’s Day, and more recently I had the chance to go to Chevrolet Ron Fellows Driving Experience at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to drive both a Camaro and a Corvette. And this was a very different experience because I wasn’t in the car with my instructor, but rather Ron instructed us through a headset. I was pretty intimidated at first, but once we started going, I felt safe on the track and did my best to follow the racing line (keep eyes ahead and looking for those pylons for guidance!).

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Photo: Ben Marans Photography

Unfortunately, I forgot to record the data from my time on the track (I guess I was so anxious to get going that I forgot to hit “start recording” for the USB as I was supposed to). I think the fastest I noticed on the speedometer was more then 150 kilometres an hour, which doesn’t sound very fast (I’ve, um, maybe accidentally done it on a highway…) but on a curvy and notoriously difficult race track, that is plenty fast to me!

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Photo: Ben Marans Photography

That day, I got to learn about the Chevrolet performance car lineup (four cars were launched in 2016, including the Camaro ZL1 and Corvette Grand Sport). Most interesting to me were the reasons behind Chevy doing performance cars at all: it creates fans worldwide, drives new technologies and drives competition, and racing and performances helps inform their production vehicles (so things they learn from the performance cars can trickle into improvements to the cars that we drive on the roads); those are just a few of the reasons.

Ron Fellows race track day

I will say that this day had me feeling like I was in a scene from the Fast & The Furious. In fact, my new motto may very well be “I live my life a quarter mile at a time.”  And why’d I categorize this under “health”? Because trying new things and getting that adrenaline pumping is always healthy in my book. And, oh, I must mention that I was the only girl in the whole group of media, so patting myself on the back for my day of keeping up with the boys!

 

Leave a Comment September 20, 2017

Travel Swellness: #GoodTimesOutside camping adventures

 Killbear fam pic

Earlier this summer, MEC and I chatted about ways to enjoy #goodtimesoutside this season, and I know camping came to mind first for me. I’ve been interested in trying it for a few years but the whole idea is daunting when you’ve never done it (other than as a Brownie once). Would I be able to pitch the tent? I had visions of me getting all tangled in the fabric I Love Lucy-styles. Would I go hungry or even be able to start a fire? 

Thankfully, I was able to round up some friends who have camped and were willing to show me the ropes. We booked the campsites (Rondeau Provincial Park  with my friend Ally, and Killbear Provincial Park with my pals Anya, Arthur, and their dog Bun) and leading up to my first camping trip, I pestered my friend Ally with question after question: Where do we do dishes and how? Where do we plug things in? There will be washrooms and showers, right? I knew well enough that for my first forays into camping, car camping would be the best. No portaging for this first timer.

Killbear camping with BJ

Before we went on our camping trip, I had a quick chat with MEC engagement coordinator, Dennis (he’s an avid camper), and learned a few key tips (I also read a few articles online) and before I knew it, the camping weekends were upon us.

Killbear hiking

Here are six things I learned from my first camping trips this summer:

1. Camping is a great way to disconnect from city life. I feel like I came to loving the outdoors late in life. But now, I love being in nature. When I travel, I try to include visiting a garden or park or go for a hike, and when at home, I take my dog, Billie Jean, for walks by Lake Ontario, hike whenever I can wrangle a friend with a car (including visiting waterfalls in Hamilton) so it’s not surprising I enjoyed this aspect of camping.

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And I’m so lucky because my camping trip to Rondeau happened to be the weekend of the Perseid meteor shower. It was so magical to be lying in the dark in the fresh air and seeing so many shooting stars. Ally got some fantastic photos (you should follow her on Instagram for more of her travel photos:  @allycarlson).

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That said, I love nature but I do not love insects. I lucked out on both trips with the mosquitoes and blackflies not being much of an issue. In fact, I barely noticed any at Killbear on our trip in August. And I had minimal interactions with spiders and other buggy creatures. Phew!

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2. Camping calls for a lot of gear. A lot. I don’t know if there’s a way around this. Could I pack lighter? Let me know, avid campers! Both times I started packing and thought, “Oh, it’s not so bad,” but inevitably there’s always so much to bring! From all your cooking tools and food to your tent and sleeping gear, it just piles up. Thankfully, with gear that packs up efficiently (my six-person tent compacts into a bag not much bigger than a rolled-up yoga mat — bonus, it was pretty simple to set up!) and with this awesome MEC Scully 100 duffel bag (which is waterproof) that you can stash smaller pieces into (making packing up your car so much quicker, the task of packing for camp is less daunting. Having all of the right gear can make a world of difference, says Dennis.

3. Make a detailed camping checklist for groceries and supplies. This was actually the first tip Dennis shared with me. “To minimize forgetfullness,” he says, admitting that he once ventured out camping and realized when he arrived he’d forgotten his sleeping bag. My friends and I made a detailed spreadsheet, planned out our meals, and outlined who was responsible for what…and this worked out well, except I didn’t go through the list on my computer carefully enough for Killbear as I forgot to pack garbage bags! Doh! So make a list, and check it twice.

4. Camping without electricity isn’t so bad. Being a camping newbie, I was adamant that our campsites have electricity. But at Killbear, there were no sites with electricity available so we booked a non-electric one. And I realized I didn’t really need it. I charged several portable battery packs in advance of the trip (to charge my phone and lantern), and with a borrowed hand pump, we filled a Casper air mattress (which I had filled with an electric pump at Rondeau), but I actually found a thin sleeping mat from MEC quite comfortable (and much more compact and much less work to fill with air), so I would consider a non-electric campsite again. If I got desperate for an outlet, I noticed outlets in washrooms where a few people were charging their phones

 5. Bring games, activities and music. Dennis suggested bringing cards and camp games so you have some entertainment at your campsite. We brought dominoes, playing cards and another card-based game and it was a fun daytime activity when we were just hanging out at the campsite  The music he recommended both for entertainment but also so that you have some noise going to alert animals like bears of your presence.

 Camping breakfast

6. Camp meals are the best meals. We ate like champs on both trips. Steak and eggs for breakfast. Easy snacks for lunch since we were usually on the beach or out hiking, and usually one fun dinner. We made veggie quesadilla (one of Dennis’s fave camping meals so we took his idea for this dinner!) and with some stellar guacamole, we were literally happy campers. I read up on camping food before our trips and it recommended pre-slicing all of your veggies and it made cooking so much easier. We cooked both on a camping stove and over the campfire and I’d assumed all of our cooking would be on the campfire but I learned that it’s often easier to use a stove. But a must, as I learned, for the campfire? Spider dogs! 

 spider dogs

I think I’m now a camping fanatic. Not sure if I’m game for backcountry camping just yet, but I definitely see lots of car camping in my future. Billie Jean adores it, too! Thanks for helping to gear me up for a new way for #goodtimesoutside this summer, MEC!

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Leave a Comment September 18, 2017

Fitness Swellness: Run the Global Energy Race by Dempster’s!

Running with Billie Jean

My main reasons for running are personal: I run to stay fit, for a sense of accomplishment, to get me outside, to eat pretty much whatever I want to (hah!), and to stay sane (it is the cheapest form of the therapy!).

But as I’ve learned in the past 10 years of running, tying in giving back to help others as part of your racing makes it an even more worthy pursuit. Whether that’s fundraising for a charity (I’ve done so in the past for cat rescues) or even just participating in races that support a cause you believe in. Last year around this time, I raced in support of kids’ mental health programs, and this month, on September 24th, I’ll be running in support of food banks in the Global Energy Race by Dempster’s in Toronto.

The race actually takes place in three locations in Canada that day: the Base de Plein Air de Ste-Foy in Quebec, the Dyke Trail in Richmond, B.C., and in Toronto, it’s in Ashbridges Bay Park (where I used to train regularly!). There’s a fun 3k run/walk, which I considered doing with my dog, Billie Jean, but I’ve opted instead for the 10k run.

Here’s the best part: for every kilometre every participant completes, Canada Bread (Dempster’s parent company) will donate two slices of bread to local Canadian food banks. How much bread does this amount to? Well, last year, more than 10,000 slices of bread were donated.

I donate non-perishables regularly to the donation bin at my grocery store so giving to food banks is something I do try to support. I’m also keen to take part in this race as it’s part of a global movement to support healthy living, and it’ll be extra fun as I’ve rounded up two friends to join me that day, too!

Want to join the Global Energy Race? C’mon, do it for the good cause…and for the yummy carbs you can enjoy before and after the race! Register here today (and if you’re 16 and under, your registration is complimentary! Free! You just have to register on the site, though)!

And also, be sure to follow along on social media: @globalenergyrun #runwithus

See you at the start line!

(sponsored)

 

1 Comment September 14, 2017

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