Today's route profile
After not being able to ride yesterday due to the constant heavy rain (always on the weekend!), I was disappointed when I looked outside this morning and saw grey dark skies and the potential for even more rain. I was not planning to spend the day compensating for my missed ride by eating several portions of butter pecan ice cream again so I thought it might be time to go back to the health club for (shudder) an indoor workout. To avoid this, I schlepped around the house, doing householdy things, and by 10 o'clock it became obvious to me that, in fact, it was not going to rain after all. This delay meant that I missed the OBC Sunday group ride, which I had been considering, but then I decided that with my trip to the mountains of France coming up I would be better off doing climbing workouts anyway. So after washing the dishes and getting dressed, I got the Tarmac out and we headed off to the Eastern Parkway for a warm-up before crossing the river to get to the Park.
Sunday mornings in Ottawa in summer mean that the major parkways close to vehicular traffic. Although having four lanes of road to yourself is nice, in practice this never happens since all the skateboards and once-a-month-in-summer-cyclists come out, usually with their children, and take up the parkways. But the Eastern Parkway is furthest from population centres here so it gets the fewest people, meaning that it is easy to overtake and find a line to maintain a decent speed for a warm-up. It was a bit strange since I had the feeling that everyone else out on the parkway was moving in slow motion. There was a strong wind, as has been the wont this summer, but I still managed long stretches at 35 km/h (22mph) or so. At one point someone on a racing bike pulled onto the road just before I came by and I passed him he gave it some gas and sat on my wheel. This was pretty amusing since he looked kind of overextended just coming onto the road so I thought I would have some fun and just started accelerating gently away. I looked back when I hit 42 km/h (26 mph) to see if I should push a bit harder but he had already vanished.
My heart rate profile today
Leaving the Parkway I rode westwards along Sussex Drive and crossed the Alexandra Bridge, turning left and following the usual horrible Blvd. Alexander-Tache to the park entrance. There were a lot of cyclists finishing up already (it was close to 12:45) but the weather, wind aside, looked really nice. I played tag with one rider but he could not keep up to me on the climb and then turned left towards the MacKenzie King Estate so I had the road to myself. A little group passed me on a slight climb but I easily caught back up on the descent. Two younger riders soon turned off but the remaining cyclist, who looked like he had legs made of iron, was too strong for me and I let him go ahead on the climb past Camp Fortune.
There was the usual big group of people at Champlain Lookout, and I took a break for Gatorade and a snack since I was a bit tired from the wind, more than the climbing. I chatted with one rider with a Sampson bike and then he recognized me from the OBC group ride we had done that he had led earlier this year, when my rear tire went flat. Don and I had a nice talk and then headed back towards Ottawa together. He was on his second loop of the park, which is pretty impressive, and although I was considering doing it the sky to the west was very dark and we were worried that a thunderstorm was imminent.
When we left Gatineau Park, Don took me through Hull in a way that would let me avoid the potholes of my usual route. We passed the Bisson Centre, where the Foreign Service has its school and where I might go for language training, and it was good to see that it was directly on a bike path. We took a somewhat roundabout way to get back to the Alexandra Bridge but I hope to try it again on Tuesday, which is the Canada Day holiday, so that I can remember the landmarks.
When I got home I saw that I had 86 kms (53.5 miles) on the computer, with just under 1000 meters (3280 feet) of climbing. I was thinking of doing the extra 14 but the sky was really looking bad so instead I put the bike away, had a shower and got the barbecue going. In the end I just managed to cook some veggie hot dogs before the rain fell yet again. But the ride was excellent and I can say that I had fun.