Monthly Archives: May 2011


It was only a matter of time before the weather finally began to feel like the summer we know and love, and I think that this morning marked the beginning of the humidity. For those not familiar with Montreal summers, we typically get some pleasantly warm weather, low 30s centigrade is the norm for much of late June through to August, but we also get some extremely humid conditions. Much like in the winter there is a “wind-chill” factor that estimates the ‘feel-like’ temperature, in the summer we have the humidex which also provides an accurate estimate of what temperature it actually feels like outside.


Almost tipping 30c with the humidex.

Despite the fact that this morning the true temperature was around 16c, I was sopping wet by the time I pulled up to the campus after an hour of riding into the wind.  There was a dampness in the air that resulted in seriously sticky arms that meant I was a firm favourite landing place for the many bug species that come out and hover frenetically near the water.  I don’t know how much protein I consume on the typical commute, but some days are definitely worse than others.  Today, and for the next few days, the high humidex will bring out all sorts of flying creatures that are usually no bigger than a centimetre of so, but have the velocity when consumed at high speed to cause a sharp thwack at the back of the throat.  This is then followed but some serious hacking as I try and dislodge the offending creature from my uvula onto which it has latched, seeing it as the last thing between theslim chance for life or a quick trip into the blackness that is my oesophagus.  I have given up trying to extracate the bugs from my throat as it is infinitely easier to accept that the path of least resistance is to help them down rather than up, and so a few glugs of water are applied, along with some energetic swallowing to help things along.  Hmm…..delicious!

The ride back proved to be even more sweat-inducing, and to add insult to injury the wind had changed direction and was right in my face, again!  Nothing could dampen my spirit, but the heat sure did dampen my shorts.  When I got home Marie had the most magnificent supper ready to hit the BBQ and I guzzled a can of sparkling water just fast enough to give you one of those rather uncomfortable moments when there is a huge buildup of gas stuck somewhere in the middle of your chest and it won’t go either up or down.

Tomorrow I do all it over again.  Ride safe.


Leave a comment

Filed under Cycling

No chain

Seven whole days it has been. S E V E N! Even I can’t quite believe it has been that long off the bike. First couple of days are not bad. Day three you start to get the itch, and by day five it feels like a five alarm rash. All you can think of id that you have to get out there and pedal. But day five comes and goes and you find yourself entering rarely charted territory. How are you supposed to feel? What are you supposed to do? Nobody has ever come back from days six and seven and ever been the same.

Dramatic? Perhaps. Let me just say that when I rolled out of the driveway this afternoon, I was on a mission. To ride and to ride hard. The conditions were near perfect: almost no wind, drying roads, a pleasant 24c and no aggressive sun to sap the energy from you before it made it to the pedals. Let’s go!

One of the pleasant side effects, probably the only one, of being sans saddle for so long is that you’ve given your legs a chance to rest. They’ve completely recovered from all that commuting with a 25lb back pack and that hill climbing while standing in the pedals. They are ready to remind you what it feels like to ride fast. Today they did not disappoint. Lance once described those rides where you feel invincible as having “no chain”. Of course, turns out that he may have had additional assistance rendering the chain as the least of his worries, but still, I have always liked that expression. Today was one of those days. No chain! By the time I got to Parc Levesque where I planned on doing some intervals I was feeling very Graeme Obree half way through the one hour world record. That is to say it felt as if nothing was going to slow me down.


I underestimated the power of the “bike path rollerblader” in my calculations, however. Have you ever come up behind a rollerblader and wondered why they have to take up both lanes of what is ostensibly a fairly wide bike lane? The swooshing from side to side that almost deliberately consumes the east-west axis is infuriating. You watch them closely as you come up from behind and try and time your arrival to coincide with the far swoosh, but the problem is that you’re not dealing with people who are generally aware of their surroundings. The tell tale white wires hanging from their ears identify them as Apple shareholders which means that at that moment in time they have absolutely no idea you’re charging up behind them at almost 40 kph. Adding to the mix the seven straight days of rain which means a trip onto the grass would be certain disaster, and you’re left with no choice but to call out to advertise your impending arrival and if that fails hit the brakes!

Fortunately all interactions with both joggers and rollerbladers were successful, which means there was no interaction, or collision anyway. Unclipping in the driveway at home I was keen to check the stats and I was dead chuffed to see 37 km at an average of 32.2 kph. I know my time should have been quicker than that, but when you opt to hit the path on a Sunday afternoon you know you’re not going to be the only one.


This is one of my favourite rides and it is one that I do regularly. Always surrounded by water it’s almost perfect. Now if I could only find a way to dissuade others from using it! Ride safe.


Filed under Cycling

What the?…..

Still in Ottawa and for most of the day locked up in this windowless meeting room deep in the bowels of the old Revenue Canada taxation building, now a Bell Canada office. Despite this, I did manage to escape into the sunlight briefly to scrounge up a cup of coffee, and it was on one of these little sojourns that I happened upon this:


Words escape me. The car is a beauty. A wonderful example of how to update a classic and give it new life for a whole new generation. The same was done for the Mini Cooper and before that the VW Beetle. In fact I think the Ford Thunderbird also received the same treatment. All brilliant examples of how a classic design can be updated without taking away what made it a classic in the first place.

But wait a minute. What’s that I see? No! It cant possibly be a pair of……eyelashes? There’s really nothing I can say. I was tempted to hang around so I could meet the owner and ask her (I assume it’s a female, but you just never know) what she could possibly be thinking decorating her car with such paraphernalia. Well GDGTGIRL, you’re lucky I did not have time to waste, but know this: your little Fiat 500 has feelings and right now she’s awfully embarrassed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc.

Our glorious capital

I have the pleasure of visiting our great nation’s capital today: Ottawa. A quick two hour blast down the 417, Ottawa is the complete opposite of what you would normally expect a capital city to be. It’s far from being the largest city in Canada, thus goes against my childhood theory that to be the capital city you had to be the biggest and the best. I’m not knocking Ottawa as a city, in fact I really enjoy visiting, but it is true that it is quite possibly the farthest thing from a sprawling metropolis as you can get. An it is this very fact that is a major part of its charm.


As you can plainly see from the look on my face and the delightful scenery behind me, I did not get to enjoy any of Ottawa’s charms today. From the moment I got back from Ottawa airport with my colleague Paul, we were sequestered in a conference room hidden from the light of day by virtue of it being situated in the middle of the building. What is it with meeting rooms that have no access to natural light? Is it that the higher ups don’t want us distracted by, dare I say it, the view of a tree blowing in the wind or perhaps a squirrel nibbling on a nut? Nah, it’s not that. The reason is actually a good one: they place everyone’s regular desks by the windows as it has been proven that access to daylight stimulates productivity. It’s a shame, therefore, that the meeting room, which is used to gather groups of people for high productivity discussions, is usually placed in the darkest part of the building, the centre, because there is no other place available.

I’m here until Thursday, but I don’t think that my prospects are going to get much brighter. Back to back meetings will almost guarantee that I will be as pale as a sheet when I get back from lack of sun. I shall probably have a malnourished look about me from drinking far too much coffee and consuming too many Tim Hortons breakfast sandwiches. I’ll need one hell of a hardcore interval training session when I get back to feel normal again.

I tried doing Face Time with the family this evening from the hotel. I was on the iPhone and they were back in Montreal on the laptop. Things got off to a terrific start. I had managed to connect to the free wifi provided by the hotel and soon I was staring at the smiling faces of Marie, Em and Ollie. Only problem was I couldn’t hear a word they were saying. Their lips were moving and they seemed happy to see me. So why weren’t they telling me how awesome this Face Time thing was? Before I had a chance to figure it out the picture froze and the call dropped. “Wha’ happen’d?” I said to myself. Needless to say we switched to that ancient technology, the cell phone, to complete our conversation. Until tomorrow when I try again.

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc.

Mountain stage

Mountain might be a generous adjective, but we’re definitely not in the flat lands of Montreal and the surrounding areas anymore. Bring it on! Our Laurentian ride coincides nicely with the start of the three toughest mountain stages in this year’s Giro and I was hoping to somehow simulate one of the climbs and almost transport myself to Italy and insert myself at the top of the peloton with 1 km to go before the summit. Of course there is no comparison whatsoever between the climbs we have in the Laurentians and those that you’ll find in Italy, but hey, we have to make the most of what we have and they are climbs nonetheless! We knew we were going to feel the burn today.

We were five today: Andy, me and Hugo making up the boys team and Cheryl and Hélène forming the girls team. We met at the home of Andy’s friends in Morin Heights who kindly provided us access to their guest house so that we could prepare for our ride in relative luxury. By relative luxury I mean a beautiful out-house on the lake, complete with running water, bathroom and living room / kitchen area.  Like I said, it beat getting changed in a parking lot or on the side of the road!  Being right on a lake the view is gorgeous and you feel as if you are hundreds of miles from the sprawling metropolis of urban Montreal. In fact, you are only a fifty minute drive away, but it feels and smells like a different place altogether.

Cheryl & Hélène cruising down a hill, one of the rewards after climbing up the other side.

If you ever have a chance to ride in the Laurentian’s, I highly recommend it.  The roads are in remarkably good shape considering the battering they get over the winter, and for the most part there is a generous well paved shoulder that keeps you out of the line of traffic.  As for the view, well, as with any mountainous district the views are breathtaking.  Our ride featured a brutal initiation: within the first 50 metres we were faced with a decent climb up out of Morin Heights as we headed south to catch the Milles Isles road.  Yup, we soon knew it was going to be a great ride but a challenging one at times.

For every up there's an awesome down.

Our plan for the day was to break the ride up into two sections.  Our first ride was just over 50 km and focused on some lovely rolling roads from Morin Heights down to Bellefeuille, up to Sainte-Anne-des-Lacs (where Andy lived for many years), back west through Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts and finally back into Morin Heights.  A brief snack and bio-break was followed by some intense decision making on the part of Hugo as he tried to determine whether or not he was going to ride anymore.  One minute he was in, then he determined he was not, then he was again, but finally he dismounted and announced that he was going to head back into town.  So we were down to four, although Hélène was not sure of continuing herself until Cheryl boldly announced that they were coming on the second ride.  As Cheryl was the ride back into town, Hélène was left with little option but to continue!

The first 50 km loop through the hills.

The second ride took us out of Morin Heights and straight uphill, again, towards the junction that would lead us to St-Adolphe-d’Howard.  Turning right onto the road that would lead us there we were faced with three large climbs, one right after the other, that Andy affectionately called “The Three Sisters”.  Each climb was in the 8%-10% range and after suddenly realizing that Cheryl and Hélène had turned around, I also noticed that some mild fatigue was setting in.  I was further dismayed when I looked down at Andy’s crank and noticed that he was climbing in the big ring.  Now I had done many of the initial climbs in my big ring and felt pretty awesome about that fact, but by this stage of the day I felt that it was perfectly acceptable to be in the small ring.  However, I could not help but feel slightly inadequate when I noticed that Andy was pumping his way up the same climb as me in a much larger gear.  I think the word “Bastard!” may have crossed my lips.

Andy and Hugo lead the pack on the first ride.

Having climbed the three stepping stones to St-Adolphe we turned around and began the return trip into Morin Heights.  I don’t know what came over me but I was suddenly re-charged and felt a surge of energy that allowed for some exciting riding on the final 10 km.  Andy did not drop me on any of the remaining climbs, although I was admittedly glued to his wheel to take advantage of a little shelter from the cross-wind.  By the time we dropped into our home base we had covered just shy of 75 km and had good reason to feel good about the morning.  When I checked my iPhone I read the text from Cheryl letting us know that they’d turned around and headed back home.  We hadn’t worried but it was nice to know that they had not somehow made it to St-Adolphe and back before us!

The shorter, harder second ride.

They’ll be a lot more hills to come this year.  I know we’ll be up in the Laurentians again soon simply to make the most of the scenery as well as the opportunity to get some real hill climbing in.  So to Andy, Hugo, Cheryl and Hélène, thanks for the awesome ride!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cycling