Tag Archives: cycling

First century of 2011, or not.

The weather was perfect.  Cool, yes, but we hardy Canadians are used to riding when its cold enough to freeze the spit in the corner of your mouth and ice up the nozzle on your water bottle.  Sunny, blue sky, dry.  Awesome day for the inaugural ride of the newly formed ‘Charlie Bucket Cycles‘ team.  Our objective for the day was 100 km, which given the fact that none of us had ridden that far in one sitting since the end of last season, was probably born from the overstated confidence that so often accompanies the amateur cyclist.  No matter, we met up at Andy’s place at 8.30 a.m. and immediately set about weighing our bikes (can you spell N E R D) with the fancy electronic gadget that Hugo brought along.  I was pleased to note that my bike has not gained any weight since I bought it four year’s ago, although slightly surprised that after more than 20,000 km it had not lost any either.

Andy, Hugo and the author somewhere off the island of Montreal.

This was a big day for Andy.  He was riding his new Cervélo for only the second time and what a beauty.  We all spent more than the appropriate amount of time ‘Ooh-ing’ and “Ahh-ing’ at the form and design, and I have to say none of it was forced.  It is a bloody gorgeous bike.  Of course, will it make him ride any faster?  I hope not!  Although he did mutter something about the power transfer being particularly impressive.  “What a nerd“, I muttered to myself, ever so slightly afraid that he might be right.

Riding in and around the Montreal suburbs is a largely flat affair, however, when you go a little farther west and leave the island itself you can find a couple of climbs, nothing more than bumps by European standards, but they test the winter legs nonetheless.  The other major test our green legs took on today was the wind.  We had a pretty gutsy head wind on the way out, thankfully offset in large part by the mini peloton we formed, each of us taking brief pulls at the front.

Andy finding the right tool to adjust his seat.

It wouldn’t be a good ride if we didn’t have to stop for some sort of mechanical issue.  Last year some of you may remember that Paul and I had to abandon Andy in the middle of the Laurentian mountains when his chain snapped and we, all three, had no chain breaker tool.  Well, this time around it was Andy again, this time with a wobbly seat.  Obviously the huge power he was transferring through the crank was too much for the new seat and it worked its way lose.  A quick adjustment and all was well though, and we enjoyed a tailwind for the final 17 km back into Dorval that saw us fly along the Lakeshore at an average of close to 40 kph.

Our objective for the day had been a century, metric-style, but we closed off at 75 km.  Well, we just ended up back home and it seemed silly to head off again!  It had been a terrific start to the season and I for one am pumped for more and looking forward to the next Charlie Bucket Cycles group ride.  The new jersey’s are almost on order and let’s just say that we’re going to be an impressive force on the Montreal bike scene this year.  (This is all in my head of course, but a lad’s allowed to daydream, right?).

I dare you to check out the two minute film of our ride by clicking here.  You won’t regret it, especially if you’re a Queen fan.

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Roadie Ridin’

I have tackled the challenge that is iMovie and managed to create something that vaguely resembles a film of my ride yesterday.  The result is two minutes of adrenalin packed excitement.  I dare you to watch it!

So if you’ve got two minutes and 26 seconds and you like John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers click the crank below.

Enjoy.

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Roadie

Bloody gorgeous day today.  A little on the cold side but not a cloud in the sky and almost no wind.  The only thing for it was to get out on the VR2 for the first time this season.

VR2 on maiden voyage of 2011

I decided to film a lot of the ride on my Flip and the footage will feature in a short later on this week, if I ever find the time to do it.  Of course I’m missing the last third of the ride as my battery went dead on me.  I also had the Nikon with me in my new trusty over-one-shoulder back pack (which the guy in the store had to show me how to put on as I was having a serious ‘dumb’ moment and couldn’t work it out…..really) and was happily clicking away with that as well until, yup, battery died on that as well.

So guess what.  We’re getting 10 cm of snow tomorrow.  Yeah, that’s right.  It’s not enough that we’ve already lived through 3 1/2 months of cold ice and snow, we finally get some nice weather, we’re teased with dry roads and ever clearing bike paths, and then BHAM! we’re getting more snow.

Campy 10-Speed at your service

We’ll see what actually happens in the morning, although I shudder at the thought of seeing the sky filled with angry vicious looking snow flakes once again.  The only up side of a snow storm this late in the season is that it rarely stays on the ground for more than a couple of days.  I’m planning on working from home tomorrow but hoping to be commuting on two wheels again by Tuesday.

Don’t screw with my plans snow!

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It’s dark out there

It is currently 6.03 a.m. and I am fuelling up on Espresso and Fruit Loops.  Surely the breakfast of champions.  The adjustment for Daylight Savings has given us that extra hour in the evening, but it has also resulted in us being plunged back into darkness for an additional hour in the morning.  Even with super bright LED lights, I’m not moving for another thirty minutes at least.  No problem.  Time for another coffee.

I am virtually riding the route to work in my head as I sit here staring out in the blackness.  I’ve ridden it so many times before, and I feel like I know every single bump and crack in the asphalt, but I know that winter will have brought on fresh craters the size of small cars that can easily cripple your progress.  In fact, Andy last night sent me and Paul an email simply titled “First Casualty”.  Sure enough, he had planted his front wheel squarely into a pot hole that would not have looked out of place in the Australian outback and not only blew his tyre but even buckled his wheel.  The only piece of good news in this story, aside from the fact that no serious injury was incurred, is that he was within flamme rouge distance from home, so less than a kilometre to go.

Alright, we’re back home and it is now the end of the day.  Apparently there are a few more cracks and bumps to learn now that Ma Winter’s effects are being revealed.  Also a good third of the bike path is not navigable as yet, but the roads are clear of all ice and snow.  Not, however, of wetness.  This is what happens when the thaw comes and you have many thousands of tons of snow melting all at once.  The ground underneath becomes saturated and there is no where for it to go but sideways, desperate to find another way down into the depths of the earth.  This results in streams, and I do mean streams, of water that suddenly appear as if out of thin air and flood the road from left to right.  With no where to go but straight, you simply have to plough through it and accept the fact that your pristine and shiny 2011 Kona Paddywagon is going to get dirty.  Very dirty as it turned out.  By the time I arrived at the Campus the bike, and me, were looking slightly the worse for wear, but with the magic that is a rear mud guard my bottom was completely dry.  How’s that for a miracle?  I have never ridden in the wet and come out of it with a dry arse.  It felt magnificent.  Wet feet, yes.  Wet legs, yes.  Dry bum!

A decidedly grubby but happy Kona Paddywagon, back from the commute

The ride down had been pleasantly supported with a light tail wind.  I knew that this was likely to mean a tougher return journey, but I had no idea what was in store for me.  Sitting at my desk around 2.00 p.m. I was startled by a creaking sound.  Seeing as I was in a massive building that was no more than three years old, I knew this was not the floor boards.  No, it was the windows straining as the hurricane of a wind that was blowing outside was buffeting into them.  I checked my trusty Weather Network and it confirmed to me the following: Winds 50km/h West, Gusts 65km/h.

Oh joy.  This was going to be a doozy.  And so it proved to be.  A headwind of that magnitude is debilitating at the best of times, but when you don’t have the luxury of jumping down into the ‘Granny gear’ ‘cos no-one’s looking, it becomes a trial of mind over matter.  You have to will your legs to keep turning and at the same time try and get past the frustration of feeling as if you’re getting no where.  The headwind is one thing, but when one of those 65km/h gusts comes at you from the side, you’d better be ready for it.  Try adding the streamlining effect (insert heavy sarcasm here) of a 30lb back pack and you’ve got yourself a sail on your shoulders, making it even more challenging to resist the power of the wind.  On the plus side, it was mainly dry.  Well, except for those rogue streams that had not dried up yet, and judging by the amount of snow still clinging on, it’ll be some time before we experience a truly dry ride.

Ride safe everyone.  Watch out for those pot holes.  They’ll get ya!

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I declare….

….riding season officially OPEN!  Yup, finally the day has come where I feel the wind in my face and the rattle of Montreal’s winter ravaged roads beneath my buttocks.  All hail!  Spring is finally here and I am out of the bloody basement!

The roads are dry, but it's still winter-esque all around

I spent the whole morning champing at the bit, going from one conference call to the next.  My goal was clear and simple: lunch time was ride time.  The first outdoor ride of the season, and given the beautiful sunshine that was streaming in through my little basement office window, it was going to be a good one.  I love those first few rides of the year.  They’re awesome for a number of reasons, but one element that always fascinates me is how it is still technically winter all around, yet the emerging sun has warmed everything up enough that the roads are dry and free of ice and the cool 2c temperatures don’t feel cold as long as you have the sun right on your face.

Paddywagon enjoying his first day out of the basement

I was not disappointed.  What a feeling!  I took the fixie out.  I mean come on, did you have to ask?  It’s been sitting in my office for the past three months taunting me each and every day.  There was no way this was not going to be the first ride of 2011.  I’ve been dreaming about riding that bloody bike.  It’s an easy transition in fact, from the road bike on the trainer to the fixie outside.  I say that because the one thing you have to remember about the fixed gear is that you keep pedalling.  Don’t “relax” and stop moving your legs because you’ll get a rude kick as the pedals continue their forward drive due to momentum and you could end up on the ground before you know what hit you.  On the indoor trainer I find that I never coast, partly due to the fact that I do a lot of hills and also because I typically set up a race against my previous best time and so it is not in my best interests to slow down and coast at any point on the course.  And so it was that I found myself happily blasting along the Lakeshore during lunch, soaking in the cracked road and doing my best to avoid the salty puddles.

I’ll tell you one thing, it sure feels like you go fast after a quarter pedalling like a demon and getting nowhere.  Long live riding outdoors.  To those in warm temperate climes who cannot relate to tis feeling of euphoria, I say that you are actually missing out on something truly magical.  It’s only when you have something taken away from you for a spell that you can truly appreciate it.  That’s true for pretty much anything.

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