Monday 7 April 2008

The 2008 Season Really Begins: Out on the Open Road at Last!

After being cooped up doing the Tour de Basement for five months (!), with the odd exception of a few rides to work on BlackAdder, generally in sub-zero temperatures and/or freezing rain/snow/slush, I was delighted to finally get out of the house this weekend to go cycling with some alacrity.

Yesterday I polished up the Bianchi Limited and headed out around 2:30 pm onto the Rockcliffe Parkway/Eastern Parkway to do the circuit that will be the same one I will do when the time trial season begins on April 24th--from the Aviation Museum to St. Joseph Boulevard and back. This is a pretty flat route but I was surprised that almost immediately my bike computer was showing a steady 38-40 km/h. Can so much High Intensity Training in the basement really mean such a jump in performance? Of course when I passed the Rockcliffe Airport windsock I realized that there was actually quite a strong breeze blowing from the west and pushing me along.

I passed a number of other cyclists, and turned around on St. Joseph. I had a very fast start to the second leg but gradually began to slow as I came back up to the airport and felt the full effects of the wind. As I turned onto the off-ramp it hit me with full force and I could not manage much over 28 km/h at that point. But soon I was on my second circuit, the wind behind me again.

After passing several people, I heard a noise behind me and I was overtaken by a rider on a Cervelo time trial bike. I quickly jumped and pulled in behind him and had the pleasure of being towed to back to St. Joseph at around 40 km/h. He did the turnaround and I followed but he did not slow down all that much into the headwind. I don't think we ever got much below 32-34 km/h and there were points at which my left calf was threatening to cramp but I managed to keep up all the way to the off-ramp. The Bianchi has a set of Scott aerobars on it so at least I could get flat behind Cervelo Man. He was very strong, needless to say, and his big ring looked like it was a 54 or 55 tooth cog. He also had an SRM powermeter crankset, which sells for around $2200, or more than the Cervelo he was riding!

After a short break at home to have something to drink, I returned to the Parkway and did another circuit. In all I covered just over 65 km, at an average speed of 29 km/h. This was more riding than I have done so far in all of 2008! Not a bad first effort. Of course, the melting snow meant lots of mud and grit and I had to wash the bicycle and all my cycling gear as soon as I got home.

Today (Sunday) I drove out to Chelsea in Quebec to ride with my friend Daryl. It was another gorgeous sunny day, with temperatures around 12C and the huge snowpiles melting but not enough to let us climb in Gatineau Park up to Champlain Lookout. We did get to the Camp Fortune ski resort and saw the late-season skiers. There were also a lot of cross-country skiers on the still snow-covered side roads. We rode up to the Kingsmere parking lot but the road was absolutely terrible, with big potholes everywhere. They are probably waiting for another election before repaving the roads in Quebec.

As I had stupidly left my wallet (including driver's licence!) at home, Daryl was kind enough to treat me to some tea and banana cake at Cafe Les Saisons in Chelsea and then we headed back to his place. The mileage was less than Saturday at 34 kms and we were riding in a very leisurely way so no records were broken and a good time was had. Of course, I had to wash the bicycle yet again when I got home.

Just under 100 km this weekend, and the promise of good weather ahead. Once the snow has melted and the roads have been cleaned of grit I can bring out the Tarmac once again and add some speed to my endurance.

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