Monday, February 9, 2009

So it begins...

Jamie and I decided to get out for a ride rather than ski on Sunday. The forecast had been promising above zero air all week, but as the day drew nearer the forecast looked a little less appealing. I was on the fence, but Jamie's enthusiasm to get out on the bike easily swayed me, and a meeting time and place were agreed upon. 

We met up at Gamelin and Lac des Fes and headed north. Headed for Wakefield, we opted for the mellow route: Mine Rd, Notch, Scott, 105, River Rd. This is the most direct way to ride to Wakefield, and the traffic tends to be pretty quiet, and for the most part, considerate. 

We met a strong headwind as we pedaled north. Being Jamie's first and my second proper ride of 2009, our legs were not quite up to pounding into the wind. I rode too high a gear much of the time and felt it around the knees. It really is best to keep the cadence up in the wind. The roads on this route are not smooth or wide enough for echelon technique, so the cross-winds took their toll on us regardless of positioning. The wind element was the one factor I overlooked in my preparation, which I paid for with cold feet. I was trying a combination of polypro liner socks with thin wool then and gore-tex socks over top. If not for the wind this would have worked at -7 or so, but it was not adequate then. Likely not enough air between feet and gore-tex socks. I'll hope for better results on Wednesday, when it is supposed to be +8 and raining. Ride, eat, rest, work, repeat. Or something.

We arrived at Pipolinka in Wakefield just in time to keep the toes from cold to the point of being a real problem. Hot epanada, coffee, treats, water, tea, juice, spring roll and banana make a great lunch for the two of us. After some very pleasant conversation and a good rest we pulled out wool back on for the return 40. 

Rolling back south we encountered the only snow section on the ride. Just outside Wakefield, about 1km of the road is covered, a mix of packed and loose snow, depending on sun exposure. The knobby 38c tires that slogged over the road everywhere else were very predictable on this stuff. However, Jamie's 28c lightly treaded tires were no match for the snow, and a dynamic dismount was required about halfway through. No problem, pretty tame compared to mountain bike spills.

Along the Gatineau river we dropped the hammer with the wind at our backs. The climbs we faced allowed us to test our legs; would they falter as they had on past first rides? No, not this time. While slower than usual, we managed fine, testament to the benefits of spending time on the skinny skis every week and commuting to work on the bike. Swirling winds posed a challenge as we progressed, but thoughts of completion stayed away until nearly home. We parted ways in Hull, both content to still have power in the legs, though perhaps some discomfort. So much better than the empty feeling one can get early in the season. 

So it begins. Wednesday will likely be unseasonably warm, and pose an opportunity to put in some more quality miles. The ride to Wakefield will suffice for a time, probably until March, when extended routes with more climbing should become practicable. The backroads are likely ok now, but getting some solid steady effort rides in for a few more rides will be good. Hopefully the weather in March will allow for adequate preparation for the Tour of the Battenkill and the Paris-Roubaix. The Uxbridge Icebreaker might even get into the mix on the first weekend of April. If so, the 50k mtb race will offer plenty of intensity to draw from for the following events. Sounds like a plan.

If I think I'll actually be able to convince more than a couple others to forsake their skis and ride in March, I'll post plans here. Otherwise, I'll stick with email fishing.

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