354km in the Saddle in 2 Days!

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Hello friends. Sorry about the lateness of this post. It’s been over a week since the big event, and I only found the time to write it up now. That isn’t to say I haven’t been thinking about all of you. In fact, I posted the pictures and videos a week ago, and even put together a custom map of the ride to show you where some of the pictures were taken. Isn’t that nice of me? I thought so. So before you clicky clicky , why not check out the map, and also look at the folder of pictures and videos on flickr. You see, I’ve been pre -occupied with both work stuff, as well as preparing myself for the upcoming BC Bike race. It’s sneaking up really quickly on me, and I have a few things to sort out before then. Namely, getting my bike re-built in time for the race. At any rate, read on for the rest of the story about the weekend of biking madness.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, the event that I’m going to write about is the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour. The other thing I’d like to get off my chest right now is that it was Jody’s idea. So don’t get thinking that I pushed her into this 🙂 However, I was ecstatic that she suggested it, and was totally on board. One of the early challenges in the preparation was that I had to focus on my race training, whereas Jody had to start at a different level. So, try as we might, we didn’t get that many chances to train together. I encouraged Jody as much as I could without being a nag, but unfortunately, I don’t think Jody got in as much cycling as she wanted to in light of work. However, I wasn’t all that worried, since I know that Jody is stubborn, and would get it done as much as it might hurt.

I could go on and on about the lead-up, but I’m sure that might just bore you all to tears, so let’s just skip to the juicy part about the riding. Rideau Lakes tour is a 2-day trip, 177km each direction. First day, you head from Ottawa to Kingston, then spend the night at the dorms in Queens. The second day, you bike back. Simple, right? Not so much. As it turns out, it would also be the longest cycling I’ve ever done in a 2-day span as well 🙂 We wouldn’t be alone though. There were over 1500 registered riders I think. Hard to tell though, although it didn’t see to matter what pace we went, there were always more riders around.

Jody and I also didn’t tackle the ride alone. Joining us was Kevin, as well as Bonnie and Grant, riding on their tandem. The original plan was to do the whole ride as a group, and that’s exactly how we started out. A couple days before the ride, I made the decision to ride my mountain bike the whole way. Yup, a crazy idea to most, but by my way of thinking, it would not only help equalize my pace and Jody’s , but it would also give me a chance to put some serious saddle time on the ole Epic before heading out to the West Coast for 7 back to back days of singletrack mountain bike racing. I even decked the bike out with a big orange road flag and home-made poster trying to solicit donations for my bit as part of Team Diabetes. What’s that? You haven’t sponsored me yet? Well, don’t delay, you can still do so by following this link. I’m still a ways off my goal / requirement :-).

The first 40km or so went pretty smoothly. We all joked around and enjoyed the fresh air. The weather was definitely going to co-operate with us, with the shining sun, and nice temperatures. The only possible concern we were going to face the day looked like it would be the winds, which, as luck would have it, were going to be head-winds. Oh well, such is life when you’re on the road on the bike. In order to assist Jody a bit if needed, I had also put a tow system on my bike that I use when adventure racing. Basically, it’s some PVC pipe and surgical tubing (don’t EVER use a bungee cord, that’s very dangerous). We used it a few times, with pretty good results. It allowed us to get a faster average speed together, and have a hope of keeping up with the tandem 🙂

Unfortunately, this is the part in my story where I go once again into the things that befall me in my pursuits. I’m talking about an accident. Unfortunately (in my mind) it was not me that suffered, but rather Jody. D’oh! It happened when she once again was trying to get on tow. I slowed, she reached for the loop, and I thought she had it. I immediately stomped on the gas, and heard “wait, wait”. I realized she wasn’t quite set up, and was fumbling with the loop (apparently she got it caught on her bars). I slowed down, and to the best of my recollection, she was trying to futz with the loop, and did notice her wheel was about to hit mine. Contact was made, and down she went! It was by no means the worst accident ever, but Jody was still very lucky to not get seriously injured. When I looked back, she was crumpled on the road with the bike on top of her.

By the look of her face, hands and knee, she went down pretty hard, but it appeared as thought nothing was broken, with most injuries being run of the mill (but still not fun) road rash. The worst of it was her knee, which had taken the brunt of the abrasion, taking off several layers of skin. That sucks, as I know how annoying a healing knee can be, since you’re always moving it. We stopped and waited for a support vehicle to get some first aid. Ironically, before the race, I had convinced us that we wouldn’t need to carry a first aid kit, as nothing ever goes wrong on a road ride. It’s always a good idea when in the woods, but on a road? Bah! Oops, not the best call, so we had to wait for a few well-intentioned, but not-so-well-trained first aiders to help out. It was rather comical watching them try to patch up the knee with all the wrong things, but eventually, Jody was patched, and ready to roll. Bruised, scraped, torn, and unhappy, but ready.

From there, the ride in to Perth was touch and go, with Jody in pretty bad spirits, and who can blame her? This was to be our lunch stop, so we regrouped and discussed options. I pushed for her to consider abandoning, as I was not sure mentally she was up for it anymore. Jody quietly told me that I should just let her have her storm cloud for a bit, but she’d be okay. So that was that. We told the rest of the gang to go ahead, and that we’d just go at our own pace the rest of the way, rather than hold them up.

True to her word, Jody ‘bounced’ back. And although our pace was nothing spectacular, we were not the last on the road, nor the slowest. We had a nice leisurely tour pace, and Jody toughed it out. I’m pretty sure she was the most determined rider of the day 🙂 At one point in the ride, we arrived at a crossroads where there was a chip wagon puffing out it’s incredible smells, and we couldn’t help but stop. I had a hot dog and fresh-cut fries, while Jody had onion rings and a cream soda. Not exactly ‘performance food’, but man was it gooood ! My iron gut was fine with carrying on with that stuff in my belly, but poor Jody started feeling a touch nauseous, and later on we took a little break at the side of the road in a really picturesque spot to ‘recover’. The weather was getting rather warm, but it was still a great day of riding.

The feeling when we finally rolled in to Kingston was pretty nice. The one thing we both sort of missed was the fact that there was no real finish line. Would it have killed them to set one up? It was very anti-climactic to be done. The rest of the day was spent cleaning up, getting settled in at the dorm, and enjoying some food and for some of us, BEvERageS . It was kinda fun to be on a campus again. We really felt like we were back in university, what with the dorm, and the cafeteria style food, then off to the campus pub 🙂 The one main difference was that we all turned in pretty early, since the next morning we’d have to turn around and do it all over again. 177 more kilometers. Good times.

Luckily for Jody, she found a better first aider who patched her up once again at the finish. Not only that, but she found Jody a ride back to Ottawa, and a way to get the bike back too, so Jody didn’t have to stress about trying to either ride back or find a way home. I think it was the right call, as I’m sure she was hurting the next morning.

Early rise, and we hit the breakfast. Yum. I loaded up on all sorts of junk. A much bigger breakfast than I normally would eat, but I had a feeling there would be no stopping for fries on the way home. This time, I’d be in the pack with the tandem and Kev, so I’d have to push my mountain bike to roll fast. It’s amazing the pace four legs on one bike can maintain on flats. However, on the hills, they really slow down 🙂 A couple times, Kev and I darted out ahead on hills just to get some sprints in. However, the Lawson train would always eventually catch up to us.

All in all, the ride back was fairly uneventful. We maintained a solid pace, and only stopped at the 4 official rest stops along the route, and even then, we didn’t stop long. It helped that the weather was not co-operating this time. Soon after the start we were pummeled by rains which got us pretty soaked in a short order. Luckily, temperatures weren’t too bad. We were back in Ottawa at a decent hour. I think it was around 3pm. However, before finishing off, I can say that ActiveSteve and his stupid accidents once again reared it’s ugly head.

Picture this: Merivale and Meadowlands intersection. I’m trying to drink from a bottle as the tandem slows down to stop in front of me. Smart Steve can only use one brake, as he has a bottle in one hand. Which brake? The front one. How hard? Too hard. Result? An extremely slow-motion endo . I almost guarantee that none of you have EVER seen anything like it. Thank you hydraulic brakes 🙂 Kevin saw the whole thing, and last I heard, was still laughing about it 2 days later. I was virtually unscathed from the incident, but boy did I feel stupid. These things always happen to me at the most odd times. Kinda like how I always sprain my ankle on smooth roads 🙂

Anyway, we got back to Carleton, and were once again disappointed that there was not real ‘finish’. Oh well. At least the smell of a BBQ was gently wafting through the air. Sweet, the post ride meal you always get at events. What? We have to pay? So much for that. They couldn’t even give us a burger or dog as part of our fee? No matter, at least there were showers in the gym. What? $4.50 a shower??! $7.00 if you wanted a towel with your shower??!? Nice touch. I won’t rant too much, but for an event that was running its’ 38th iteration there were a few things that surprised me, that was one of them. I’m sure this is a major fundraiser for the Ottawa Bicycle Club, but if you’re going to nickel and dime us to death, at least be clear why!

We all just opted to head home and do our own thing, after briefly posing for a couple group photos with our completion certificates (which were a nice touch BTW). Jody had even made it back via bus from home to meet us at the end, which was nice. She was in good spirits, and in spite of the rather remarkable wounds on face and knees, seemed pretty healthy. We loaded up all our gear and headed home, just in time to watch the heavier rain starting. Our pace saved us from getting super soaked, which was nice.

So there it was. Rideau Lakes 2009. My first time, and probably not last time doing that tour. I did have a good time, although the throngs of riders somewhat detract from the ‘tour’ style of the ride. It’s hard to hold back when a peleton of 20 riders blows past you. My first reaction is to sprint after them, but you have to keep saying ‘tour, tour, tour’. Congrats to everyone who made the trek, and to those who had accidents or mechanical issues but still carried on. Riding 354km in 2 days is a remarkable feat for most, and something to truly be proud of. It was also very good training prep for BC for me. I’ll stop now, as once again I’ve written FAR too much. I just don’t know when to stop or leave things out. And believe me, I left a LOT out!

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