Saturday, February 20, 2010

Getting into the good stuff.

I woke up to snow today. Light, no problem. Then is picked up...doh. My weekend window for riding was to be today, and I knew it should be near zero. Sloppy snow would cover up stuff I had to see...not optimal.

I waited it out, did some stuff around the house, and monitored the melting. And melt it did. By about 11:45 I rolled out of the house, dressed the same as last week. 2 degrees warmer made all the difference; I was warm and stayed that way.

Today was a solo affair, everyone else occupied or otherwise. I enjoy riding alone, I'm able to ride exactly according to how I feel, and I wander wherever I like. When I err, nobody's there to jeer me. I love riding with friends too, just saying I'm happy either way.

Feeling fine physically, I took the opportunity to try out the Cantley side of the Gatineau river for the first time this year. Since the bike paths are still snow covered, I improvised my route and pieced together a good path across the river. All was great on the hilly side with the exception of the Chamonix neighborhood neat Cascades. This is an optional loop that packs in some steep climbs and fast descents. Up to the hard right onto Oslo (see map), all was clear, and the dirt sections were great. Turning onto Oslo could have been avoided, but I figured I'd risk it. Sure enough, this less traveled dirt road was snow covered and offered zero traction to my slick Challenge Roubaix rear tire. I got off and sprinted up, carrying my bike, cross style. Kidding. I walked up spastically as my feet slipped. Once up the road pretty much points down. I tested my brakes and sure enough, found I had zero traction. Each turn had to be slid moto-style. I was fortunate not to encounter oncoming traffic. THe descent could only be described as 'hairy'. No brakes in a straight line, sliding the turns. Not recommended at the moment, not even with cross tires. The snow was covering ice.

Back onto Mountain road, now past Cascades, thing returned to normal, with some sloppy sections breaking up pavement and packed dirt. No problem. Despite experiencing pain once again in a quad near my knee, I decided to check out Woodsmoke, the area's most brutal climb. Perhaps a blessing, it too was snow covered, and would not provide enough traction to either climb or descend safely. Ah well, no problem, maybe better not to push it. Beyond Woodsmoke, the dirt road was often dry, and rather smooth and solid. I passed Maxwell by and continued onto the next branch West to head over to River road, which would head me back South to Wakefield.

Good surfaces delivered me to Wakefield, where I stopped for a visit to Pipolinka in their new location. Back on the road, a slight tailwind helped deliver me back to town along River road and the 105 to St. Joseph, bringing the day's total distance to about 110k. Good sensations, despite the knee issue and a very achy neck (I've been seeing a Martin at RE:FORM to sort out a couple issues lately, and its tender). I felt strong all day and had fun; success. If you are thinking of getting out there, fender up your bike and roll. The roads are for the most part as good or better than they were last March.

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