Sunday 23 September 2007

Cycling in Canada!

Not so flat around here...

Taking advantage of the beautiful Autumn weather, I made my first long ride today. I had planned to join a group from the Oakville Bicycle Club riding in Ottawa with a club member who had recently moved, but I was just too involved with things at home for an early start. I finally got the Tarmac out at noon and headed through the Byward Market and then across the wooden slats of the Alexandra Bridge to Hull, Quebec. A left turn and soon I was "enjoying" the brutal potholes of La Tache Boulevard. It is clearly not election year in Quebec as the road was in terrible condition and I was worried about my lovely Shimano wheels. But after riding 5 kms or so, I saw the entrance to Gatineau Park, and turned right. At this point the road becomes as smooth as glass and you know that you are in the Pride and Joy of the National Capital Region.

The park is only fifteen minutes from downtown Ottawa but is a beautiful wild area of some 360 square kms, encompassing a number of lakes and some nice hills. There is an interesting collection of Canadian wildlife, and in July a cougar was sighted in the Park.

It is a popular place to ride and I was there to ride up to Champlain Lookout, the highest point in the park. The weather was exceptional, although it was a bit windy, and I made good time. I rode by Pink Lake, where I had my one triathlon experience, and continued along the parkway. The road continually rises and descends and I enjoyed the challenging little climbs and the trees, which are just beginning to change colour. I passed the summer estate of former Prime Minister Mackenzie King, which is open to the public and where tea is served, before I made the left hand turn as the road pitched up to Champlain Lookout, 12 kms ahead.

When I reached the Lookout, I stopped to admire the view and discovered the group from the Oakville Bicycle Club was there. We will ride tomorrow since a number of the roads in Gatineau Park are closed to cars on Sunday. They headed back towards Chelsea while I rolled back down the hill and went to a meeting with the coach who will give me some advice about my upcoming duathlon.

My actual ride time was a relaxed 2 1/2 hours, and I covered 62 kms, with a surprising altitude gain of nearly 1000 m, with the steepest grade 13.5 per cent. Tomorrow I will bring my camera so that I can capture the first of the Fall colours.

1 comment:

Will said...

car free sundays - very civilized