We don’t get very extreme weather. Well, some would consider -35c in January and +35c in July as pretty extreme, but it’s not an aggressive climate, and by that I mean we are fortunate that we do not suffer from tornadoes and hurricanes and other very destructive phenomena that afflict so many different parts of the globe. All that being said, the rain that came down last night, and then again this morning when I was out on the bike, was heavy!
Last night’s rain was part of an extremely loud thunder storm. It had been brewing all day with the 100% humidity and a ‘feels like’ temperature of close to 40c. When the clouds finally burst at around 7.00 p.m. it was a veritable cacophony of thunder and pounding rain. At times it looked as if it was simply falling in sheets and the wind was pushing it through the shrubs and trees in the garden leading us to worry that nothing was going to be left standing by the end of it all.
Today’s rain, which lasted all of five minutes, was big and heavy and very, very wet. Yes I know all rain is wet, but let me tell you not all rain is created equal. No, this rain was the kind that landed heavy on you and went through your clothes almost instantly. In no time my tyres were sending up the dreaded rooster tail of dirty wetness right up my arse and my feet were starting to feel the chill as the water seeped in through the many aeration holes on my Sidi’s.
And then just as soon as it started, it tailed off and then stopped completely. Within two kilometres the road was completely dry which led me to the conclusion that had I ventured west instead of east I would not have encountered this mini-storm at all. By the time I got home, the bike was dry, I was almost dry and if it was not for the tell take drying watermarks all over the frame you would never have believed that it rained rain the size of golf balls.
The next couple of days feature a high humidity and heat warning for the Montreal area. It’s funny how a few weeks ago we were moaning that spring seemed to be getting off to a really slow start and it was always raining and cool. Well I tell you, if you ever needed more proof that human beings just love to complain then bring up the weather. Now no-one can stop going on about how bloody hot it is and “Oh my God, will someone tell me when this heat is going to break?” People! You cannot change the weather. Deal with it. And you know what? Enjoy it. Fast forward a few months and you’ll be crying about the snow all over again and dreaming of days like this. OK. Lecture over.
When I left the house at 5.40 a.m. there was a heavy dampness in the air that actually made it feel slightly cooler than the recorded 21c. Down across the lake there was a heavy mist that hung right over the water, creating the most ethereal image. The wind was almost non-existant adding to the eerie feeling. Hardly a car was on the lakeshore and it was still too early for most of the pre-breakfast joggers.
At about 25 km of the total 40 km ride this morning. Very humid even at this time of day.
I made it to Parc Levesque and began my laps. I have mentioned this park before. It’s a spit of land that juts out into Lac St-Louis and with its 1km straights it is perfect for hard intervals or just cruising. The weekends, forget it. But at 6.00 a.m. on a weekday morning you have only the sea gulls and two or three other riders and joggers to interrupt what is otherwise perfect serenity. The park smelled incredible. At times it reminded me of the family house in Rivière-du-Loup with the smell of the pine trees in the dampness. At other moments I rode through what can only be described as a wall of scent, lilacs I think, so overpowering you can’t help but marvel at nature. The water was glassy calm, as you can see from this shot, and I wish I had been quick enough to get a picture of the lone kayaker making his way across the mirror, only his oars creating a tiny ripple as they dipped into the water.
Ten laps later it was time to make the return ride along the lakeshore road to home. I would have kept a slightly higher average speed had I not been stuck behind a beaten up Pontiac Sunfire for the first kilometre. He was not leaving me any room and there are a series of about five stop signs in a row that I felt absolutely obliged to recognize. Judging by the baseball cap tipped aggressively to one side and the dings and dents that seemed to cover the car from bonnet to boot, I determined that the driver was definitely unconcerned with my well-being and any demonstration of cheekiness, such as running the stop sign, would give him just the ammunition he would need to justify doing something silly. I’m not saying he would hit me on purpose, not at all, but he seemed like the type who would honk, drive close and scream out of the window. Having said that, stop signs are there for the bikes just as much as they are for the cars, so really I should not even be having this dialogue!
Pulling into the driveway at 7.00 a.m. I was dead chuffed to see that I had completed 40.5 km in 1hr 14m at an average speed of 32.1 kph. Not a bad start to the day. Now I can hide in the air conditioning until tomorrow morning. Ride safe.
The early morning sun tries to break through the cloud at Parc Levesque.
I managed to get out just before lunch today and complete one of my favourite local loops, one I have named the ‘Atwater Loop’. The reason for that is quite simple: the half way mark is at the well known Atwater Market in downtown Montreal. A farmer’s market during the summer and home to higher end comestibles vendors all year round, you can be sure to find everything from twenty varieties of apples through to pasta that’s more expensive than gold per pound.
Riding tall on the VR2.
It was an awesome day for a ride and the VR2 was flying. The new chain and Campy 10-speed cassette and providing super slick gear changes, a pleasant change from the clunking and skipping that I was starting to accept as normal prior to the replacement. I have noticed a slight creaking from my seat post, however, and this is mighty annoying. I am confident that my diagnosis is accurate because I notice it when I am pedalling in the seated position, but whenever I stand in pedals and charge the bike is almost stealth-like in its silence! So does anyone have any advice for me? How does one successfully cure a creaking seat post? Is it usually a problem with the seat itself, or rather the tube as it enters the frame? Any tips would be enormously appreciated.
Creaking post aside, I made terrific time on this almost windless day. I completed the 43 km loop with an average speed of 31.1 kph. Some days it just all comes together and feels bloody awesome to be riding, and this was one of them. The bike path was relatively clear of rollerbladers and recreational cyclists and so I could use both lanes to maximise the cornering and keep the hammer down. I can’t pretend that I felt like a pro rider, but it did feel brilliant to go flat out and not have to slow down but a couple of times.
Nothing like a quick hard burn like that to refresh the grey cells for an afternoon of conference calls and Excel spreadsheets. Ride safe.
Had a brilliant ride with Paul yesterday morning. He was on his brand new 2011 Cervélo R3 and what a piece of machinery that is. I have always been a Cervélo fan. I love the fact that it is a Canadian company, founded and still headquartered in Toronto, and the two founders are still running the ship, almost twenty years on.
Paul test riding his new Cervélo R3 in civvies.
But the main reason I love the brand is because they make bloody gorgeous looking bikes. Without doubt they are the best looking bikes in the Pro peloton today, and I dare say they are some of the best looking bikes in production anywhere. The R3 is no exception to this and once again the Vroomen-White design sets this bike apart from the rest of the hoy palloi.
Paul’s understandably delighted with his new toy. Like a young boy who has just received his first catapult, there is a permanent grin plastered to his face as he pedals. And why not? It’s not everyday you change bikes and when you ride something that is quality it is a true pleasure.
We rode 55 km in 1hr 47m and the time went flying by and the kilometres passed with relative ease. I am looking forward to the first time that I get to go out with both Paul and Andy, as I am now totally outnumbered when it comes to choice of bike brand. They both ride the Cervélo R3, whereas I am staying true to my Campy clad VR2. It may not have the brand recognition of their rides, but it can still teach them a lesson on occasion!
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.