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Bicycle. Bicycle. Bicycle.

Charlie Bucket Cycles rode their first official century of the season this past Friday.  What a glorious occasion it was.  Well, it would have been if we had all finished together, but although we did clock the 100 km necessary to qualify for the metric century, we finished in two groups.  One group of two, and then one on his own.  More about that later.

The author, Andy and Paul on the cable ferry running between Île Bizard and Laval

The ride started as it usually does with the three of us trying to casually mumble such things as “Got to take it easy today lads, no racing“, and “We need to save energy for the last 25 km, so no freight train on the way out, OK?”  without sounding like the wimp of the group.  I don’t know why we even bother going on like this because we all know that as soon as we’re on the road absolutely nothing that was stated before means anything.  Case in point: we were taking turns pulling each other as we headed west towards Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue when the relative calm and order of our ride was shattered.  I was leading at the time and we were keeping a comfortable 33 kph into a headwind when a cube van drove by us.  Before I had even completed another full turn of the crank I saw Paul go past, standing in the pedals and seesawing his Cervélo back and forth with the aggression usually saved for the final 250 metres of a flat stage in the Tour de France.  It took me a second to realize what he was up to, but when I did I also jumped up in the pedals and tried to join the rapidly disappearing back wheel of Andy who had been able to react faster than me.

By this time Paul had reached his goal and was tucked up behind the cube riding in the vacuum that is created in the zone about two feet off the rear bumper.  Andy had almost reached him and I was still a thigh-screaming ten metres behind them.  The bastards had out wit me, and not for the last time that day.  No matter, the advantage, as sweet as it was, did not last long as the cube van took a left turn about half a kilometre later.  It had served as a reminder, however, that I need to work on my ‘bursts’ of power, so I took a mental note that I would be needing to schedule some tedious and painful interval training sessions in the coming weeks.

Soon we were on the north shore having traversed the rapidly moving river between Île Bizard and Laval.  The seasonal ferry takes about 90 seconds to make the crossing and literally pulls itself across on a cable that is suspended 30 feet above the water.  Every time I cross this section of water I am convinced that if I was to fall in I would find myself in the Old Port in a matter of minutes, so rapid is the flow of water.

We were reminded that it was Good Friday shortly after arriving in the first town as a long procession, complete with police escort in mean looking black Dodge Chargers, went by.  The 100 or so people were obediently following a Christ-like figure hunched over under the weight of an enormous cross.  A re-enactment of sorts, it cut a dramatic if not slightly disturbing image.  Actually, I think that the most surprising element was the very dramatic unmarked police cars that seem to the norm on the north shore.  All black, no exterior lights and no markings whatsoever.  Is the element of surprise that essential when you get away from the relative sanity of the island of Montreal?  Perhaps it is.  Better keep pedalling.

So you may recall the throwaway comment I made at the beginning of this entry about finishing in two groups.  Here’s how that happened.  We were driving hard through Senneville down the three 1 km straights that take you from the northern edge of the island and bring you south-east to the autoroute 40.  Each kilometre stretch ends with a 45 degree turn that leads onto another long straight, and if the wind is going in the wrong direction this can be a tortuous ordeal.  Taking turns at the front we were maintaining an impressive speed given the late stage of the ride.  I finished my pull, drifted over to the left to let the others through, and then blew up.  I couldn’t hang onto Paul’s wheel and get onto the train and I suffered both the ignominy and frustration of seeing them slowly pull away.  My legs were not responding to the urgent and imploring messages from my brain, urging them to pull out one more burst of power.  They simply had had enough.  When we got to the T-junction that is the autoroute 40, the boys were politely waiting for me.  Turn right and you head west again for the roundabout way home.  Turn left and you shave off about 15 km on the return run.  I made it clear that I had to go left, even if that meant riding solo the rest of the way.  I could see the boys wanted to take the long way home, so I bravely encouraged them to go their own way (cue Fleetwood Mac).

By the time I rolled into my driveway I had completed the 100 km I set out to do, just!  I got a text from Andy shortly thereafter asking if I had made it back in one piece (what a super fellow!) and he confirmed that he and Paul had ended their morning at 115 km.  All in all an awesome day for the three of us and one that bodes well for the upcoming season.

I did record the route on the iPhone using the trusty MapMyRide+ application.  I find this a fascinating thing to do and it never ceases to amaze me when I review where we went on a fully interactive map.  It also helps with planning future routes because you can look for roads or climbs that you did not find the previous time out.

The 100 km I completed. Paul and Andy completed an additional 15 km at the end of the morning not reflected on this map.

Guess what!  I also recorded on HD video portions of the ride and yes, I have completed another short film of the day to share with anyone who cares to spend 3 minutes of their life watching it.  This time I selected ‘Bicycle Race’ by Queen and attempted to re-create the cheesy days of early music videos that those of you who watched MTV in the early 80s will surely remember.  Good times.

Click on the image to watch the video.

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