Jake and his first ride on his new bicycle
After several days of indoor workouts (including the dreaded Short Duration Power Test wherein I sprinted up to 770 W of power output for somewhat less time than Mark Cavendish), I was determined to get out on the weekend and enjoy what promised to be excellent weather, perhaps the last good weather for the year.
On Friday I accompanied my colleague Jake to a big sporting goods store in Ottawa. I had recently persuaded him to Come to the Dark Side and buy a racing bicycle. I helped him to locate a very nice and only slightly used one but we needed All the Accessories. It was like Christmas for me: I helped pick out shoes, a helmet, a floor pump, some tools, shorts, socks, gloves, cleats and so forth and he paid for it all. I was a bit jealous since his excellent Giro helmet (in yellow, to match his bike) was unfaded, unlike my precious red Eclipse, and it was a level higher in the Giro line and cost less than when I bought mine! I may have to try and smuggle another one into the house because, well, you can never have enough helmets. I think that bill came to a good proportion of what he paid for the bike, an Opus Scherzo designed and assembled in Montreal.
On Saturday we met behind the National Research Council building on Sussex Drive and as two policemen looked on from their parked cruisers I installed his pedals and then the cleats in his shoes, made a minor adjustment of the seat, put a full water bottle into the holder and directed him to ride around the parking lot. Jake has not ridden a bike for some time and this was several levels of seriousness up. He learned to shift gears and position himself comfortably on the bike. More importantly he learned to disengage the cleats from the pedals as he slowed down.
I got on the Tarmac and we rode out along Sussex Drive. We had to get up on the sidewalk to get access to the MacDonald-Cartier Bridge and here Jake came to grief for a moment, tipping over onto his side. This was his initiation into the joys of clipless pedals and I told him he would not have to do that again. We rode over the bridge and then were soon on the bikepath heading towards Gatineau Park.
Jake tearing up the hills in Gatineau Park--c'mon: relax those elbows!
The ride was excellent, although it was only about 6C--it had been -2C when I left home. We had clear skies and entering the park we found very light traffic. We rode up towards Champlain Lookout and Jake got used to the shifting. The first significant climb on the route is the one to Pinks Lake and he managed this well enough although he did note that he was already starting to feel this in his legs. We went a bit further, to the intersection that would take you left to the Lookout or straight through to the Visitors' Centre and we decided here would be a good place to turn around. Now Jake could enjoy the delights of a high-speed descent on a light, fast and responsive bicycle and I knew the effort of climbing would be forgotten.
We crossed back into Ontario and headed to Bridgehead for some celebratory coffees. We had ridden 51 kms and climbed about 500 m in all. Not too shabby for a shakedown ride. Jake thanked me for being patient and showing him some of the techniques for cycling but I have to say it was an enormous pleasure to introduce somebody to the pastime that means so much to me. Cycling is the very best sport of all and when I think of all that it has given to me, including a high level of fitness, new skills and confidence, a chance to see some many wonderful places and make a lot of great friends, it is a small effort to pass my enjoyment along.
On Sunday I returned to Gatineau Park again, this time alone, to do my favourite climbing circuit. It was quite cold but I was wearing a long-sleeved wool jersey that Pezcyclingnews.com had sent to me for my book reviews and I have to say that I am sold on this traditional material. It kept me warm and dry even though I did not have a layer above the jersey. It looks very retro-stylish as well, the only drawback being that it has to be washed by hand. But some of us know that fashion always trumps practicality.
In spite of the cold a lot of motorists had decided to come into the park on Sunday and I did not find the ride so pleasant. I also developed a muscle spasm or something in my right side and it hurt a bit as I rode home. Still, it was an enjoyable day out (the spasm disappeared with a hot shower) and I had clocked another 71 kms and 1,000 m of climbing.