Fred V. and his Miyata
One of the nice things about returning to Ottawa is renewing old friendships. Today I returned to Gatineau Park to ride with my old cycling buddy, Fred V. We rode together in Europe, doing a multi-day tour along the Taubertal and the Altmuehltal in southern Germany, as well as some riding in Brandenburg, including a disastrous ride near Pritzwalk in freezing rain that I had more or less forgotten about until he mentioned it today.
We met at the Visitors' Centre near Rue Gamelin. Fred had his black carbon Miyata bike, which he has recently modified by switching to straight bars and installing a new Shimano 8-speed Alfine internal hub system. The bike has a single chainring, which he thought was a 38 tooth. The Alfine is the newest high-end system from Shimano. I rented a bike in Switzerland once with a 7-speed Shimano Nexave, which was quite nice but probably pretty heavy.
Intrepid Cyclists at Champlain Lookout
Fred is retired and has lots of time to ride up and down the Gatineau Hills. We rode up towards Champlain Lookout, electing to do the direct route as it was fairly cold (2C?). We were joined by a rider on a white Moser who asked to join us rather than ride alone. He and I went ahead on the hills as we were a bit faster than Fred but Fred rocketed by us on the downhills quite nicely. The Moser rider rode a number of climbs in the Pyrenees this summer and we talked about riding in Europe. After I pulled away from him easily on a big uphill, he remarked that I had a rider's physique, something nobody has ever suggested before. At least that weight loss effort this year yielded results. And Fred was very happy with the ride as he managed to knock off no less than six minutes from his previous best time on the climb.
Fred and I chatted at Champlain Lookout for a while and then headed back towards Ottawa. It was much colder in this direction, plus we had the windchill factor from descending. My hands were getting pretty cold but I felt very good on the bike, as if I could chase down anyone I wanted at will.
Along the Ottawa River
We left the Park and after riding along the bikepath on the northern shore of the Ottawa River crossed at the Champlain Bridge. We turned towards the east and were soon at the Bridgehead coffee shop on Wellington Street, where Fred treated me to an excellent late and a peanut butter cookie.
The River Highway
We parted ways soon afterwards and I rode along the Ottawa River bikepath past the new War Museum. There was a plaque explaining the geology of the region and how, a million years ago, the Gatineau Hills were mountains nearly as high as Mt. Everest. The area where I was cycling was part of the Champlain Sea, and would have been 250 feet under water only 10,000 years ago. There was also a plaque describing the Ottawa River as "the river highway," with some very nice metalwork calling the mind the front and back of a cargo canoe, with voyageurs at the paddle. I could not resist taking a photo with the Tarmac in between.
The path took me past the War Museum, the Supreme Court of Canada and Parliament Hill. Unfortunately, the Rideau Canal had been drained so I could not cross over one of the locks and instead had to ride up behind the National Arts Centre and then ride through the Byward Market.
Considering we are in the first week of November, I was very satisfied to get in a nice 75 km ride, with almost 1,000 m of climbing and some nice socializing.