Well, the rain finally took a brief hiatus allowing me to get the trusty Paddywagon out of the shed and back onto the road. The past four days have been nothing but rain, totally awesome for the garden, not so awesome for riding. In fact, I had to drive to work yesterday for the first time since February. I was reminded, within the first six km, why I choose to pedal myself to work. Sitting in traffic is a nightmare of frustration and completely unavoidable.
It was a perfect morning. Slightly on the cool side perhaps, but other than that perfect. Dry roads, almost, and clear sky with a slight tailwind that gently guided me on the 25 km all the way to the Campus. I titled this entry ‘Waterfront’ because aside from the 700 metres from my house to the Lakeshore, I ride the entire way next to Lac St.Louis. It is easier to picture it on the map of the commute just below, but it reminds me how bloody brilliant it is to live where I do. So many people would kill to ride on these roads with these views, and I am fortunate enough to get to do it every day. That being said, I have friends in Arizona and when I see them riding in January in short sleeves up these brilliant mountain roads, I too am envious. We all want what we don’t have at some point or other.
The day remained perfect for riding, something I could check on regularly as all I have to do is turn my head slightly while I am on the phone and I have a terrific view of all of downtown Montreal. What I was not able to pick up on so well was that the wind had picked up, considerably in fact. Not only had it picked up, but it had turned from SW to due W, which resulted in the return ride being into the wind every turn of the crank. As I was recording today’s commute on MapMyRide+ I opted to go for the return trip home that goes along the canal. Yes, another waterfront of sorts, although far less dramatic than the lake. You do get to enjoy the view of the trendy and very expensive condos that line the canal as you go past downtown, but today I did not have any energy to sight see. I was pedalling through syrup, at least that’s what it felt like, and with the added handicap of only the one gear plus a 30 lb back pack strapped to me, it felt as if I was advancing at a snail’s pace. You want to know what cheered me up? I thought of my buddy Bruce who has been riding around Japan with his wife the past week or so, and has been subjected to snow and rain and ice! Oh, and of course wind, but after the previous three the wind hardly matters. So thanks Bruce – you and Kaz have been an inspiration this week!
The icing on the cake reared its ugly head with about 12 km to go. I started ‘hearing’ the front tyre. You’ll know what I mean if you ride a lot. You get familiar with the sound your tyres make on the tarmac. So familiar that you don’t usually hear them. But when the sound changes, you immediately dial into it. I noticed a change. Slightly louder and it had a ‘stickiness’ to the sound, as if a lot more rubber than should be was rolling over the pavement. I glanced down already knowing what I was going to see. As well as the change in phonics I could tell that the front end had become very soft. Sure enough, my front tyre was deflating, but it was doing it quite slowly. Would I make it home?
The answer to that is no. I would not. After feeling the tyre nearly slip right off the rim I decided that it would be prudent to stop and pump some air in. This I did and within a few minutes I was back in the saddle again (cue Aerosmith) warily watching the status of the air in the tyre. I managed to get within 4 km from home when I had to stop again as I was starting to feel the rim over the bumps. This time, I had not done more than ten pumps of the little portable air pump I have when I heard a crack followed by a loud gush of air. The valve had snapped clean off where it comes through the rim. Was I pumping that hard? I didn’t take the time to analyze the situation. The sky was beginning to bruise and if I did not hurry and change the tube now I was going to be doing it in the rain. Save for a stubborn moment when the tyre did the ‘I’ll unravel to the left as you try and hook me in on the right….try and catch me‘ routine, I was soon pumping up a fresh tube, this time with slightly less vigour, and eventually I was on my way once again. By the time I rolled into the driveway I was decidedly relieved to be back. The wind had been a real bastard and the subsequent puncture had sealed the deal.
I could not, however, remove the smile from my face. After four days stuck indoors, it was just awesome to be back out again. Ride safe.