Monday, November 24, 2008

Blood, Sweat and Tears: The 2008 Hardfolk Classic

In the weeks leading up to the Hardfolk, many expressed interest, feigned and otherwise. The pitch was simple: assemble, ride, eat great food and drink great coffee, ride, recover. Simple yes, sexy no. This time of year the weather varies from pretty nice to heinous. The Sunday before the Hardfolk, Thom, Will, Rodd and I rode a mixed terrain loop in the rain and wet snow. Fun, but awfully unpleasant by the end with soaked feet. The Hardfolk delivered dry conditions, but chilling winds and temps well below freezing. The forecast was grim enough to keep some away, while a few made failed attempts to join the group for lack of adequate clothing and logistical coordination. So it goes. Yet a hearty few did assemble, bright and early, to earn their Hardman stripes. Relatively speaking, that is...due respect to the real Hardmen. I speak of Hardmen to the exclusion of Hardwomen here because, sadly, none of our fairer compatriots on wheels showed. Maybe next time. 

At 7:30 we departed from Tall Tree, well, Starbucks truth be told, heading East. Will, Kent, Rodd, Steve, Brad and yours truly. Steel frame to carbon ratio: 5:1. Pretty good. Wool layer count: somewhere in the 20s. Good. Steelwools: 2. Great. Grand Bois tire count: 8. Nice. Quickly freezing water bottles all round. Super. 

After passing through Lac Leamy we decided to modify our route for a couple reasons. Fewer riders than hoped meant fewer wind buddies, and it seemed prudent to take a smaller bite before hitting Wakefield in order to manage to ride some of the good stuff op North. So we stayed on the West side of the Gatineau river and headed directly to Wakefield. 

While the others in the group seemed to be fairing pretty well in the extremeties, I had some trouble. Either cold hands or cold feet plagued me on route to Wakefield. By the time we were close I felt pretty good and the others agreed to take a short stop at Pipolinka to preserve heat, and stop again after our upper loop. We left Kent at the bakery so he could preserve his energy for the return to town while we continued on after a quick stop for a snack and coffee.

The upper loop proved, as expected, to be a great time. Crossing the covered bridge, we headed North and looped through farmers fields and stepped hills. As seems to be the norm in this area, we encountered many non-humans: a young buck, a gaggle of deer, a Piliated woodpecker, a school of wild turkeys, huskies, horses, and cows frolicking in a cornfield (their frolic is very mellow). No hunters spotted this time out, and very little traffic. The route unfolded in a meandering fashion, with many a curve, up and down. One or two turns were a little tentative with spotty ice coverage on the roads, dirt and otherwise. I know I was hoping pretty hard for no cars as I rounded some of the turns. Fast changes of direction are distinctly unwise in these conditions. We all got off clean. On our return leg of the loop Rodd and I discussed hitting the gravel gap. I took a poll and no-one opposed the extra 7k excursion. It was Rodd who admitted he'd be happy to leave it out, and the others were happy to comply. I was ready for some soup, and did not protest.

Back at Pipolinka we met a forlorn Kent. Steelwool count: 1. He'd taken his front wheel into the bakery and kept a watchful eye on his bike through the upstairs window while we were off gallivanting. Some wretch defiled his Pure Laine in a mere 10 second window of opportunity while Kent was distracted. He was shocked by its conspicuous absence. Gone. This turn of events damped our spirits and for me, cast a shadow upon rides to come. We've often left our bikes outside Pipolinka to load up on their goodies and felt rather confident that we were in a non-scumbag zone. Wrong. We'll have to be highly vigilant in the future; this is saddening. To think one can rationalize stealing another's bike - while they are in the middle of a ride no less - is sobering. I guess some people think others deserve to suffer when they trust too much. Wrong.

Kent took the loss like a Hardman and looked for the silver lining. He took a walk to pass the time it would take for his partner to arrive from town to taxi him home. We rolled on.

The return to town was uneventful, which was what we were probable all hoping for. We went our own ways, home to wrap up the weekend and meditate on the day's events. I found myself wishing we had more along for the ride while accepting why many stayed away. Next season will bring more rides, some of them epic, others less so. I hope to find ways to motivate others to venture into unknown terrain and unknown resources of energy, strength and determination. The truly Epic ride still looms in the realm of  potentiality, and I hope the experience is shared among many. 

Blood (circulated), sweat (emanated), and tears (dropulated).

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Hardfolk Classic Will Roll!

Just a quick post to confirm that Sunday's ride will roll as planned.

Meet at the soon-to-be-old Tall Tree store - 422 Richmond Rd - at 7am Sunday. Then we ride.

It'll be cold, but should be dry/ish. Bring extra gloves, if possible, to enable a switch upon departure from Wakefield. See Rodd's post below for more details.

I look forward to seeing you all for a day of conversation, great sights and some character building!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hardman Classic Update

Hallo all interested in the Hardman Classic still set for November 23rd.

Couple of points, a few folks have expressed interest in doing the longer loop. I think the best way is to consider it a two pronged group ride, the first stage is to Wakefield, via Cascade. This is 67 km to Wakefield and lunch, then those who wish to continue can do so, while those who do not can easily ride back to town via River Rd.
That way the most amount of folks can get some fun in, but without the heavy duty distance.
It will still end up being an over 120 km day, with plenty of climbing and some super fun gravel.
For those who want a bit more, well there will be a bit more.

I would recommend ya'all bring some things.
Chemical hand warmers, useful if you need them.
Lights, a be seen front and rear light
Dry gloves, just in case
Wear wool socks! and booties!
Bring cameras! Very scenic!
Bring two tubes each
and a patch kit
Bring a good attitude!
Thats all for now
So meeting will be fairly early. We will assemble at the Tall Tree old location for 7
We will roll along the river bike path on the Ottawa side, crossing either at Portage if the locks are open, or cross at the locks if they are crossable.
So if anyone wants to meet us at spots along the river, (War museum, under the bridge by the Museum of Civilization whatever, please let us know ahead of time)
A comment on this blog post will suffice.
I look forward to seeing you all there.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Pre-Hardfolk Classic

The first Sunday of November delivered clear skies and a brisk clime for what was to be a long day in the saddle. Seeing the forecast a couple days prior, a few of us were inspired to skip the cyclocross race in Kanata and pull together a Classic ride instead. 

Upon rolling up to meet some of the others in town, I was pleasantly surprised to see some faces I didn't expect. Thom convinced Brad and Martin to ditch the cross race, and when they did, they pulled two of their buddies along too. Four more wind buddies. A minute later, Chris pulled up, another pleasant surprise, and away we rolled to collect our final rider, Jamie, to the east. 

And then there were ten. We cruised through Lac Leamy, a favourite route to work over to Cantley, across the river, and through the switchback section of bikepath that beckoned thoughts of Alpes Duez. On route to Cantley, misfortune struck, and I suffered my first Grand Bois flat after a season on them. An inch long nail near the bead...hmmm, just how does that happen?

Photo: Rodd Heino

Fixed up and rolling, we rolled on through Cantley and started to splinter a bit. About 30k in one of our wildcard riders was feeling a little too much sensation, and decided to head back to town with his compatriot. Down to eight. Unfazed, we plodded on.

As we approached the road to Cascades, Brad peeled off in order to get home at noon. Down to seven. Soon upon the Cascades downhill - the fastest in the area we know of - we headed down to encounter patches of brown ice near the middle. Yowsers. To be avoided. Nobody broke any records. As usual, the following climb made us pay.

Photo: Matt Surch

Atop this climb we hung a right into the neighborhood to climb a steep turn and partook in some fantastic dirt conditions; tacky and pretty darn smooth. Sure, there were strips of ice here and there, but hey, what's a ride without a little sliding action?

Rodd and Rob up the grunt - Photo: Matt Surch

This is where things get good! Photo: Matt Surch

The descent from the neighborhood back to the Cascades makes all the climbing worthwhile. Braking is required going into a couple of the corners, which is nice since we don't have many tough corners around here. There was a bit of ice, but we all came out clean, with smiles on our faces. 

From dirt to tarmac, we headed toward the golf course, where Thom found a most welcoming porta-potty. All those layers really slow ya down!

Before long we were onto the highway, then rolling into Wakefield for lunch. Pipolinka is where its at for excellent food and drinks, organic and fair trade!

After lunching, Martin departed for town while the rest of us continued on despite a bit of a time crunch. Rodd had a new route he wanted to try, so off we went, back through the covered bridge. 

This climb was pretty darn steep, up to %20 - Photo: Matt Surch

Rodd's 'gravel gap' proved most entertaining, with its snow-covered climb (Jamie climbs above) and rock laden downhill blaze. Unfortunately, not all got through clean; Rob pinched and put a bit of a dent into his rim. Even Grand Bois in 32 come up short sometimes.

Looping back to Wakefield we encountered a few interesting happenings: A hunter walking up the road carrying his rifle told us we shoulda been wearing red...scary; a teenage girl fell off her horse; a young buck sprinted at the road perpendicular us and bounded over ditch and fence, fence and ditch; a field of pumpkins; a bunch of huskies sitting in the sun. Then Chris's spokes loosened up to the point where it required serious attention. Unfortunately, the three mechanics in the group had to head back to town, so we left Chris, Rob and Rodd behind to deal with it. A short time later, we got word via cell that Chris had opted to call in the sag wagon. Then we were five.

Rolling through Hull, Rob suffered another flat in a construction area. We had just enough light to get home.

Total distance for the day was about 135k. After some post-ride discussion, we agreed that the Hardfolk Classic will have to roll out earlier, about 7 am, and we'll have to hit Pipolinka and run. This way we will have the option to head to the Dam, which ought to be spectacular. It was great to have an opportunity to do a dry run with less daylight after noon to feel out the timing. The Hardfolk will not be much longer than this route, perhaps even shorter if the weather is severe. Check back for an update with a GPS trace of the route.