Sure, its only March 7th, rather early to deem the month Spring, but after a weekend of highs around 8 its difficult not to be optimistic. Apparently, I'm an optimist, and I already decided it was spring leas week, so I'm going to throw caution to the wind, go out on a limb, and say this is shaping up to be a March even better than last year's. Sun, dry roads, clear dirt...what more can we ask for? Gatineau Parkway clear of snow? Soon enough!
With spring in the air it was easy to get a good sized group together this morning. Some already had hundreds of kilometers under the wheels this season, others none. All the same, we rolled West together through Aylmer, headed for Eardley Rd., which would take us North through the farthest reach of the Gatineau park. While the route was quite flat, the wind was another matter...a little taste of Belgium perhaps. Much of the dirt roads were covered with fresh loose gravel, squirrelly indeed. No matter, riding no-hands isn't really necessary anyhow.
40k in we hit Highway 148, at which point a couple of our amigos opted to return to town for 80k total, while the rest of us continued on. Option one exercised.
A short section of the 148 delivered us to Eardley, and its brisk 18% climb. Now paved, its still sprinkled with dirt, but standing is possible. We fared better than a pick-up that had to concede defeat after failing to make it up the first pitch. Good snicker for us. Get a bike.
The dirt through the park was smooth though sprinked with gravel, rolling fast. Upon arriving upon Highway 366 at kilometer 60, option 2 was exercised as three of our cadre split off to roll on to Pipolinka for snacks. The rest of us kept the pedal to the metal and headed North then west on the dirt, looping clockwise to Wakefield. We seemed to surprise the others, arriving at Pipolinka only a short time after them. Good food all round, then rolling en masse back along river road, including Cross Loop, which is in great shape. Two flats for the day (quite acceptable) lots of fabulous sun, and good sensations for everyone (pain is productive, right?). The full 120k loop contained a nice mix of elements, a solid option, especially for those times of year when its best to keep the climbing moderate.
Map and pics to come.