Tuesday, September 22, 2009

200km Covey Hil

On Saturday I went on a ride with two other cyclists from my club and two from the Club vélo randonneurs de Montréal. The ride itself is 205km, but I think it's about 8.5km from my house to the starting point (and another 8.5 back home). 222km: that's an even nicer number than 205, don't you think?

It was a beautiful day, sunny, a bit cool in the morning (cold toes), but lovely as the day went on. The middle stretch, featuring a long climb from around 80km to 95km, was very hard as I hadn't eaten anything (just drank some water) since 40km, and the others had to wait for me at the top of Covey Hill (a stone's throw from the US border). Fortunately, then it was 5km of downhill to the bakery where we had lunch. Something disagreed with my usually-iron-clad-digestion, though - was it the sandwich, the pasta salad, the extra olives S. gave me from his salad, the two apple scones, the quarter-sliver of maple syrup pie, or as I suspect, the two cups of coffee? - and shortly after lunch, my lower digestive tract felt like, well, a meat-grinder was at work. I had a much-needed pit stop at the side of the road, followed by a lingering slightly-sore tummy for the rest of the ride. The other riders were kind enough to "pull" me and take the lead; I drafted off them for most of the ride home. As a result, I stayed comfortably in my recovery zone and felt almost as fresh as a feather when I finished. I felt a bit guilty when they admitted to being zonked. Oops.

I have rather a knack for getting funny tan lines; now I have a new one for my collection. I don't think I'd worn this particular jersey with my long tights before, and certainly not a full-day sunny ride. Afterward I realised that my tights rode down a little bit and my jersey rode up; consequently I have a two-inch strip of scarlet sunburned skin on my lower back, from hip to hip. That's right about the area where my backpack rests, which was not ideal for the hiking trip I went on the next day. I also feel a bit sore today in the leg muscles, but fortunately that's the kind of thing that goes away with a bit of time. The trip was well worth it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Montreal-Quebec, the actual route, more or less

After we got to Granby, James and I decided to change route, bypassing the hills of the Eastern Townships for a flatter and more direct route. Here is the route we took, pretty much. Well, we took bike paths in place but they were very close to these roads.

Photos and an account of the blood, sweat, and tears rain, sweat, and mud will come later.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

My next adventure: Montreal-Quebec, not the shortest way

Tomorrow I set off on my next cycling adventure with James F. It will be 4 fun zigzagging days to Quebec City - not the shortest route but hopefully scenic - then some time in Quebec City before returning by bus or train.

Here is the plan, even though these kind of vacations often turn out so different from the plan.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Bike plein d'eau

I took my bike into the shop to have the chain changed and brakes adjusted, and picked it up today. My bill itemised the work done, and added one more item: "bike plein d'eau", no charge. The suitably-Montreal-bilingual note meant my bike was full of water.

Two weeks ago, my bike club rode over Jay Peak, Vermont and along the flank of Mont-Sutton, Quebec. The rain was quite heavy for the second part of the ride, and my bike stood out in the rain for a few hours during which I warmed up in a café inside and waited for some of the other riders to finish. Perhaps it infiltrated the seat and passed down the seat-tube into the bike-tube... and then the water stayed there for two weeks. Eeek!

The bike-guy told me my bike also had a screw at the bottom one can unscrew to drain the bike. I never knew! I wonder if this was something particularly thoughtful from Marinoni when they designed my touring-bike's frame, or if some/most/all other bikes have a drain-hole too.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Singing in the rain: memories of Gaspé 2003

(The Big Wild is hosting a contest 'Singing in the Rain' contest to celebrate outdoor activities enhanced (?) by rain. This recalled one of my wet cycling adventures.)

I was worried when I signed up for an August 2003 week-long trip of cycling 700km over the hilly terrain of the Gaspésie, along with 2000 other cyclists. It was going to be my first time cycling this much distance day after day, so I trained very hard in the prior months. Almost as anxiety-provoking, it would also be my first time camping.

Everything went well - beyond my wildest expectations. My legs were well prepared and I enjoyed pedalling through the beautiful, though sometimes challenging, terrain. Camping - with a borrowed tent and borrowed camping mattress - was fine too, and I slept well each night. The biggest surprise was getting used to showering in ice-cold water every day; our campsites weren't up to the task of providing hot water to 2000 people.

About half way through the week, though, it started to rain; and then it rained for about 30 hours non-stop, with the only variations being how heavy it might rain and how hard the wind might blow. So after cycling that first day of rain, I arrived at our schoolground campsite, body soaked and spirits chilled. I struggled to put up my tent in the heavy rain; the strong wind was loud enough to mask the chattering of my teeth; but eventually I got the tent up. Cold, gritty, and in a foul mood, I sought warmth and dry refuge inside the school, but I was too distracted by my anger even to want to take advantage of the hot water that, at the point, was still flowing in the shower stalls. I hung out for a while, warmed up a bit, pretended to be dry, regained my presence of mind, and noticed the organisers were converting rooms inside the school into emergency dormitories. The spaces were being claimed quickly by dispirited cyclists. I planned to transfer to the dormitory, so I returned to my tent to take it down, expecting to find a soaking mess.

But something wonderful happened. My tent was dry in mid-afternoon, it was still dry after supper, and it stayed dry all night. Some other tents blew down in the wind in the middle of the night. Some other tents leaked. Some others spent the night inside shared close quarters with hundreds of snorers. It would be another day before I saw blue sky even intermittently, but that night in my tent, I was dry and cozy as a symphony of wind, rain, and flapping nylon sang me to sleep.