My favourite training loop
After several weeks of either boring flat farmland riding or sitting at home watching the rain come down, I was delighted when I woke up at 6 am this morning to see the weather was perfect for riding: sunny, no wind to speak of and just the right temperature. After a leisurely breakfast, including feeding the semi-domesticated female chipmunk who wanders into the living room looking for peanuts, I pumped up the tires on the Tarmac and headed to the Eastern Parkway to do some interval training, as suggested by the Coach of Cruelty.
In this I was thwarted as the road was closed for a women's 5 km running race, and it would not be open until 9:30 am. Rather than lose the time, I did a loop back along the bike path running alongside the Ottawa River to Rockcliffe Park, and then rode into the Byward Market and across the Alexandra Bridge to Hull. It was going to be a Gatineau Park day!
As I rode through the woods on the bike path at the entrance to the Park, a large rabbit hopped out onto the path. He did not dart off to the side when he saw me, but just kept on loping along the path in front of me. I had to shout several times to get him out of the way as I did not want to run him over. He did not seem very disturbed by my presence.
The same could not be said for the lady cycling near the Lemelin entrance to the Park. I was on the bikepath and heading north, while she wanted to get onto the path from the west, needing to do a 90 degree right turn. This seemed beyond her biking handling skills as when she tried to follow her male companion she got very slow, wobbled into the turn and then fell over as I pulled up to the stop sign. She seemed okay; perhaps she was learning how to use clipless pedals.
Heading north on the main road I was soon joined by another cyclist, a New Zealander named Mike. We chatted for a while and then he turned left towards the King Estate and Champlain Lookout while I kept going straight to go the longer way. I noticed a deer on the side of the road up ahead and was watching very carefully as they can be unpredictable and get in front of you but this one stood gawping at me until I was about three feet away. Then she suddenly realized that I was of the same species as Elmer Fudd and thus to be avoided, so she ran off back along the verge and into the woods.
When I passed Meech Lake Road and began to climb towards the Camp Fortune ski area I was amazed at how relaxed I felt, and how my speed was not falling very much on the climb. On the profile above you can see the climb at the 31 km mark. It is fairly steep and long but steady and I held a constant 13-15 km/h (8-9.5 mph) almost all the way to the top. Then I turned right to go towards Champlain Lookout and the New Zealander waved as he headed downhill in the other direction. I felt so good when I reached the Lookout that I just did the loop and kept riding instead of stopping as usual.
All this training has had some kind of result as I rocketed back downhill to retrace my course, hitting 64 km/h (nearly 40 mph) along the way. There were a lot of cyclists riding uphill and it was such a beautiful day that everyone looked happy and we all waved to each other.
I was in a bit of a hurry to get home since I had an 11 am appointment so I pushed it a bit all the way back, ending up with an average speed of 26.13 km/h (16.3 mph) which is pretty good as I climbed around 860 m (2800 feet) in only 70 kms (43.6 miles).
It was a bittersweet appointment. A few years ago, I was a very enthusiastic home brewer but after living in Germany and the US I realized that I preferred to spend my time drinking the beer instead of making it. So I put an ad on Craigslist and sold my four carboys, primary fermenter, 80x 1 litre bottles and all the tools and other stuff--enough to make something like 140 litres (37 gallons) of delicious, all-natural beer--to a nice gentleman from Quebec. I wish him much joy of it; at least I now have more space in the basement for yet more bike stuff.