Tag Archives: commute

I see the light!

Friday marked the first time I had ridden to the campus in almost two weeks. Not because I have embraced a more sedate form of travel, although I did enjoy driving the new Fiat to the office once last week, but timing and agenda simply meant that I was working from home more than usual. I could not have picked a more gorgeous morning to be back on the lakeshore.

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You can make out the 'rays' of light passing through the clouds.

The bugs were out in full force.  There are plenty of sections along the water where you are literally getting smacked from tip to toe by little flying creatures of varying sizes.  They don’t often end up in your mouth, if you keep it closed, but then when you’re riding hard it is not ideal to be pounding along with your gob tightly shut.  You just don’t get enough air coming in, and so sooner or later you have to open up.  That’s when anything within a six foot radius of said oral opening just gets sucked in and you only know about it when you feel a ‘thwack’ at the back of your throat.  If this happens do not try and bring the offending insect back up into the mouth.  For starters it’s almost impossible and secondly who wants to feel that sucker buzzing around on your tongue.  No, your only option is to glug plenty of water and push that bugger down your pipe.  As he is past your tongue already, its not gross anymore.

Off to Toronto for a couple of days next week so I think my riding is going to be limited to a couple of early morning rides.  Intervals perhaps?

Ride safe.

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Fixies are not ideal…..

….when riding into a bloody hurricane! Cuss me! The ride home this evening was without a shadow of a doubt one of the windiest, and therefore toughest, I have had in a long time. Check it out:

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Yup that’s right. I took a snapshot of this forecast just as I left the office. 48 kph winds from the south-west. Where do I live? Twenty-five kilometres south-west of where I was standing at that moment. Of course what this screen shot does not capture is the speed of the gusts that were hammering across the open spaces every thirty to forty-five seconds. I am not a weatherman, but they would have been in the 60 kph range, I’m certain of it. Either way, I knew it was going to be a rough ride home.

There’s a place about 10 km from home where the road rejoins the waterfront after a couple of kilometres further inland. Also at this point the land juts out into the body of water thus eliminating the possibility for any potential wind breaking objects, such as enormous trees, because one is totally exposed to the wind charging in over the lake. But why should I only describe it when I can also show you?

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The lake, as with all lakes, is typically calm. No waves or tidal patterns like the ocean. But today it looked like the grey dreary beach front at Walton-on-the-Sea (name changed so as not to insult any UK readers). Nothing but cold looking, murky water with aggressive crests pounding the shore.

It was as I finished taking this picture that a young bloke went by on his road bike, clearly in the small ring and obviously struggling. He went past me while I re-mounted and by the time I was up again he was about fifty metres ahead. So much for some sharing the pain I thought. Then the competitive spirit kicked in and I decided to catch him up. A strong wind really makes you appreciate the vast selection of gears that we usually have at our disposal. All I had was the 42T/16 and it was a grind by this part of the trip home. In my attempt to catch up with the roadie I had stood up in the pedals and almost laughed to myself when I realised that an elderly lady pushing a Zimmer frame would have had no problems overtaking me had she wished to. I’d never felt such a strong and directly head on wind before. It was awesome.

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I kept grinding away though, and I could see that I was slowly catching him. Oh this was going to be sweet. In the wind to end all winds I, on a fixed gear, was going to overtake a roadie. Now, I had to make it look like I wasn’t suffering too much when I got there. That would be tough given that my chest was burning and my legs were screaming blue murder, but I had to make calm. And then, when I was about six feet from his wheel, he turned off the path and up a street. Bastard! Bow dare you deny me my moment? Well, I still had him. So it counts. No?

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Humidity

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.

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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.

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Fog hat

We don’t see fog often in Montreal. Not like the UK where it is an almost daily occurrence! (I’m English, I can say that. You’re not, so you can’t!). So being a phenomenon that is rare, it makes for an interesting ride in to work. Figures suddenly appear in front of you where seconds before there was nothing. The tops of the trees are invisible to the eye and there is a mist that shrouds the surface of the lake. It is beautiful.

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It is also humid. Very humid in fact, and by the time I am at the half way point my back is soaking wet against the weight of my back pack and I can see that the hairs on my arms are matted as if it was raining on them. Except it’s not.

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The Mercier bridge cuts an especially dramatic image standing out of the mist. I wish we had more mornings like this one. Sublime.

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Here comes the rain again

Just like the Eurythmics song from the ’80s, the rain just keeps on coming, but I have no interest in singing about it.  I don’t especially enjoy riding in the rain.  I’m not worried that I am going to melt nor do I actually mind getting wet.  The main reason I don’t like riding in the rain is that it means I am going to have to clean the bike afterwards. Stupid, isn’t it? Safety?  Not so much a concern.  Getting sopping wet?  Bring it on!  Cleaning the bike, and in the interim riding a dirty bike?  What a bummer!

When I awoke this morning the roads were dry. “Excellent!” was the word that jumped to mind as I busied myself making the coffee and tea. “I’m not going to get wet after all. Those weather experts have got it wrong again!” As you can guess, the forecast was for light rain in the morning, and to awake to a completely dry road was a bit of a coup. It turns out that I celebrated a little prematurely.

No sooner had I finished making the coffee and preparing the breakfast than I noticed the all too familiar droplets of water landing in the pond outside. “What the f….?!”, I said to myself. I ran to the front of the house to check the road. I don’t quite know whether I was expecting it to be dry in the front if it was so obviously raining in the back, but it was the first thing I thought of doing. I appreciate that it does not say much for my intelligence, but there we go. Not totally surprising it was raining in the front as well. I sunk down despondantly into my seat and ate my McCann’s Rolled Oats in sullen silence. I was going to be getting a dirty bike this morning.

By the time I got on the road the rain had stopped but the damage was done. The tarmac was wet and within the first 500 metres I could see the droplets of water all over the frame. A wet bike still looks so sharp. Its when it dries that you notice and appreciate that rain is not all that clean, and you couple that with the spray that the tyres throw up and you’ve got yourself a very gritty piece of machinary. Still, by kilometre seven I was back on dry roads, and they remained that way for the remainder of the ride down to the Campus. Despite the vigourous headwind, tipping the scale at 41 kph gusts right into my face at times, I made fairly decent time to the office. I like to think that having a few enforced days off the bike (due to ridiculous amounts of rain) had brought fresh life into my legs. I also find that imagining the return journey with the wind squarely in one’s back is a motivating way to tolerate the harshness of an overly bullish headwind!

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The water levels are high this year thanks to all the rain.

The return ride home did not disappoint. Leaving Nun’s Island I felt the awesomeness of nothing. You know you’ve got a good tailwind when you don’t hear the wind in your ears. It’s a strangely silent ride. And you fly. Being on the fixie meant my cadence all the way home was up there but that did not matter one iota. I got home before the rain got me. Ha!

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